Financial website dailyfinance.co.uk reported yesterday that a contractor for Lewisham Homes left a USB memory stick in the pub. Apparently there was information on 20,000 residents on the stick, 800 of which included bank account details. It also included details of 6,200 tenants of Wandle Housing Association.
The stick was unencrypted.
The report doesn't name the subcontractor, and suggests that although Lewisham Homes will more than likely have a clause in their contract with the subcontractor about protecting sensitive data, they don't seem to have a way of checking this.
Residents would concur that monitoring its sub contractors has never been one of Lewisham Homes' strong points.
PCPro.co.uk reports that Lewisham Homes issued a statement: "In March 2011, without our knowledge, one of our contractors took confidential information and put it onto a data stick which he subsequently lost. This was in breach of our Data Protection procedures and as a result of this breach the contractor has now been dismissed."
Other IT websites carrying the story report that the memory stick was
handed in to the police, and the ICO (Information Commissioner's Office)
believe the data was not misused. Acting head of enforcement at the ICO said, "This incident could so easily have been avoided if the information had been properly protected."
Both housing bodies have agreed to ensure that all portable devices used to store personal data are encrypted, with all staff to follow existing polices on the handling of personal information. All staff, including contractors, will also be monitored to make sure they are handling personal information securely. (cio.co.uk)
Both bodies avoided a fine. The ICO will only enforce a monetary penalty when it believes there has been noticeable damage to affected parties (itpro.co.uk). Apparently it acts on just 1.4% of data breaches and only fines 0.15% of offenders. (techwatch.co.uk)
Often recipients of incorrect bills for fictional repairs and services, residents might also agree that IT is also not one of Lewisham Homes' strengths.