UK data breaches up by 1,000 per cent in five years

By Peter Gothard
30 Aug 2012 View Comments
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Data security breaches across private- and public-sector organisations in the UK have risen by an average of 1,000 per cent over the past five years, according to figures obtained from the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO).

According to the figures, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by storage company Imation, the most serious of these self-reported breaches since 2007 have been in the local government sector, where attacks have risen by a phenomenal 1,690 per cent in the past five years.

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Other public-sector organisation breaches have increased by 1,380 per cent, while the private sector recorded a hike of 1,159 per cent. 

The increase in data breaches in the NHS was 935 per cent, while central government registered a 'mere' 132 per cent increase in data breaches in the same time. 

"The massive increase in data breaches in just five years is fairly startling," said Nick Banks, head of EMEA and APAC, Imation.

"But perhaps more alarming is the consistent year-on-year increase in data breaches since 2007. The figures obtained from the ICO by Imation seem to show that increasing financial penalties have had little effect on the amount of data breaches each year."

In 2007, UK local government data controllers reported just 11 security breaches, but this had more than quadrupled to 45 by 2008. Some 65 instances were reported in 2009, before escalating to 146 in 2010, and 188 in 2011.

2011 figures for other sectors included 207 breaches for the NHS, 277 for the private sector and 44 for central government.

"Organisations must take responsibility for preventing breaches, and with so much available technology there really is no excuse for failing to adequately protect data," said Banks.

"The current trend of increases must be reversed, and there is no reason why that is not achievable."

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