Headlines: December 9th, 2008

More staff in local government are set make use of their laptops away from the office as the benefits from Project Nomad, one of the UK government’s e-government National Projects, become more widely recognised. The downside is that without a change in thinking about data security, there is a greater risk of data loss.

Project Nomad aims is to analyse, demonstrate and evaluate the benefits of mobile working for local councils, and test a range of mobile technology solutions. The potential benefits of going mobile are estimated at 336 million pounds per year. This includes efficiency savings of up to 81 million pounds and up to 50 millions pounds in increased revenue.

Concerns about the security of data held on mobile devices have been raised following a survey by the Telindus group of companies. The survey revealed that with 92 per cent of the councils enabling their staff to connect to the council network from remote locations, 43 percent have no plans for tightening security.

The most reliable way to maintain security is to encrypt the data, but only 10 per cent of councils use encryption. The remainder rely on password authentication and the diligence of staff to follow data security guidelines that sensitive data is not transferred to laptops.

Mark Hutchinson, managing director of Telindus said: “Data leakage is becoming more commonplace as mobile working becomes more popular and the vast majority of the public and private sector still needs to play catch-up to this latest data security risk. Encryption certainly helps protect data from the opportunist thief. However, there is no way of telling whether the encryption method has been compromised once in their possession. Councils must think beyond encryption when reviewing their security measures and consider installing a ‘track and kill’ device on all laptops.”