System design to help gov't curb security breaches

The government has revealed how it will avoid future data breaches similar to the HMRC loss of 25 million people's details

The government has revealed how it will avoid future security breaches similar to the HM Revenue & Customs loss of 25 million people's details.

Brian Collins, chief scientific adviser to the Department for Transport and the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform described how monitoring technologies would protect the public's data.

Speaking at the A Fine Balance privacy conference, Collins described future government computer systems that could ask users if they were sure they wanted to transfer sensitive or large amounts of data, and systems that would also warn users that the transfers would be logged and immediately flagged up with their superiors.

He said: "The system design should never had allowed the transfer of data of 25 million people's records to happen."

Collins said security will take this step forward as government departments upgrade their computer systems and demand suppliers build in checks and balances.

He also described the other work being done by government departments to better protect public information in the wake of the Poynter and Independent Police Complaints Commission reviews, the Data Sharing Review and the Cabinet Office data movement lockdown.

Collins said specialist "information asset owners" had been appointed in departments to ensure data was kept secure, more information security training and education was being carried out and there were regular information security compliance checks.

An ID management and information assurance group has also been set up and is developing cross-departmental policies on information sharing and handling.

He added that the Department for Transport had encrypted 2,500 laptops used by staff in just two weeks after the Cabinet Office data lockdown.


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