Technology implemented without thinking, says information commissioner

Information Commissioner Richard Thomas has blamed the public's lack of technology awareness for a growing number of data loss incidents.

Information Commissioner Richard Thomas has blamed the public's lack of technology awareness for a growing number of data loss incidents.

There has been a huge expansion in technologies used by public and private organisations, but people have not thought through the security implications, he told a data protection conference in London hosted by law firm Pinsent Masons this week

"They have brought technology in without thinking through how it was going to be deployed," said Thomas.

High-profile cases such as HMRC's loss of two discs containing the records of 25 million child benefit claimants have helped promote greater awareness of the risk.

"I can't tell you how many people at ministerial level, senior civil servants and senior business level have said 'I had no idea you could get 25 million records on two CDs'," he said.

However, Thomas acknowledged there has been "dramatic change" in the civil service in the past 12 months.

"The entire civil service is now being trained in data protection and at a top level people are taking it a lot more seriously," he said.

Most of the recent data loss incidents, Thomas observed, have involved private sector contractors.

"The problem is by no means a problem confined to the public sector," he said.

Read more on Hackers and cybercrime prevention

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