Data Security Disarray

Article excerpt

Byline: Ken Foxe

MORE than one hundred Government laptops, Black-Berries and othertechnological devices have been stolen or lost in the past six years.

All 15 Government departments have insisted no confidential data has been lostso far, but concerns have been expressed that private information could havebeen accessed.

Security experts said that the password protection spoken of by manydepartments was not sufficient to protect the personal data of taxpayers andother government employees.

The loss of 123 laptops, blackberries, mobile phones and memory sticks comesamid growing concerns about the security of Government databanks.

In Britain, there has been a series of scares involving the loss of data bygovernment employees.

In one instance, a computer disk containing the names, addresses, birth dates,national insurance numbers and bank details of 25 million people went missingin the post.

Remarkably, the Irish Government does not appear to have strict guidelines onwhat precautions each department should take.

Some departments have sophisticated security networks, which can automaticallywipe the memories of missing technology, but others rely on individualpasswords.

At the Department o f the Taoiseach, nine items have gone missing in the pastsix years. A statement said: All laptops issued by the Department haveencrypted hard drives and store no data locally.

Strong authentication methods, in addition to simple username and password, arein place to prevent unauthorised access to these devices. Mobile devices canbe, and are, disabled immediately on notification that they are lost or stolen.

At the Department of Finance, only a single department-owned memory key hasgone missing in the past six years. …