Headlines: September 25th, 2008

The public have high expectations that public bodies will safeguard their information, but a survey by Clearswift and Information Assurance has shown that this expectation is not embedded in the culture of public services.

The key finding from the research was that information assurance is fairly low down on the agenda of public service decision makers. The report suggests that 40 per cent of senior management have little or no understanding of information assurance, and that 32 per cent of board members have discussed IA fewer than four times at board meetings in the past year.

Staff further down the management chain are aware that information assurance has a low priority. Forty-nine per cent of public sector employees polled felt that their organisation’s IA procedures could be significantly improved, whilst 86 per cent also felt that IA procedures could be improved significantly across the UK government as a whole.

Further findings revealed in the report are that an overwhelming majority of respondents don’t believe the general public should be informed if a data breach occurs and 62 per cent of IT decision-makers in the public sector are unaware of the proposed introduction of data breach notification legislation.

The survey also revealed that 19 per cent of UK public sector organisations had suffered a data loss in the last 12-18 months, and of those, over half had experienced more than one. The top three causes of data loss were: loss of removable storage devices, 67 per cent; loss of hard copies, 44 per cent and loss through email, 11 per cent.