British Businesses Warned Against Casual Attitude on Data Theft Incidents

Following another major breach of data, this time at a pension trustee firm, the Information Commissioner's Office has warned businesses across the country to combat the problem more seriously and make protection of consumers' private data a "board-level issue", or they could face strict penalties and huge fines.

The warning was sounded by ICO head Christopher Graham after the information technology providers of Versity Trustees, a renowned pension trustee firm of Leeds, lost a laptop which contained sensitive private information of as many as 110,000 people, including their addresses, phone numbers, salary details, national insurance numbers and names, among other data. The lost laptop contained bank details of 18,000 people.

"What people think they know about the Data Protection Act is usually wrong. Loss of data equates to loss of trust, and it should be a board issue and not something you leave to the IT guys. Some people are learning the hard way", said Mr. Graham while disclosing the incident.

Stolen from a computer server room at Northgate Arinso, Verity's pension administration system provider and a renowned IT firm, the laptop had data that had been downloaded by the company for training purposes. The incident has come merely weeks after a T-Mobile employee was slapped with charges of stealing private data of customers and selling it to rivals.

In the wake of rapidly rising cases of data theft, the ICO has been quick to warn businesses to rev up their current security models and take the issue more seriously, failing which they could be slapped with fines of up-to ?500,000 starting next April.