Whitehall restrains data breaches, while losses take off elsewhere

Central government has shown the smallest increase in self-reported data breaches compared to other parts of the public and private sector, according to figures obtained from the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) by data security firm Imation Corp.

By Joshua.Chambers

19 Sep 2012

The figures, secured via Freedom of Information Requests, show that self-reported data breaches within central government have increased by 132 per cent since 2007 – vastly below the average of 1,014 per cent.

Local government data breaches increased over the period by 1,609 per cent; other public sector organisations by 1,380 per cent; the private sector by 1,159 per cent; and NHS by 935 per cent. The graph below shows the absolute numbers of data breaches, giving another perspective: local government breaches rose from 11 in 2007-‘08 to 188 in 2011-‘12, and central government from 19 to 44.

An ICO spokesperson pointed out that the rises probably represent an increase in reporting as much as in breaches: “These figures show that more organisations than ever before are reporting data breaches to the ICO,” he said. “We are pleased that the health service and government sectors are now expected to report serious breaches, involving sensitive or large volumes of personal data, to our office. We would urge other sectors to do the same”.

However, Nick Banks, head of Europe, Middle East and Asia at Imation Mobile Security, said: “The massive increase in data breaches in just five years is fairly startling,” adding that “perhaps more alarming is the consistent year-on-year increase in data breaches since 2007. The figures... seem to show that increasing financial penalties have had little effect”.

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