Local authorities should clamp down on loose data

Seventy one per cent of people believe that their local authorities should prevent staff from accessing confidential data about citizens via laptops, BlackBerry or other mobile devices when they are working away from the office, to ensure that the information does not fall into the wrong hands

The survey - hosted on SurveyMonkey.com - also revealed that 78 per cent of people are concerned that visitors to local authority buildings, whether they be members of the public or contractors, are able to use wireless networks and gain unauthorised access to confidential data stored on the network.

"From our research it's clear that the British public has little faith in their local authorities' ability to secure confidential information," says Carole Theriault, senior security consultant at Sophos. "Government bodies need to better educate their staff on safe computing practices, and subsequently reinforce this message to its constituents."

Theriault adds: "As physical security is managed by assigning appropriate levels of security clearance before someone is admitted into a building, the same principle needs to be applied to the network... as wireless Internet access becomes the norm in many working environments, organisations need to consider locking down user access - the public perception is that constituents' data is open to anyone to delve into and steal."

Implementing security measures "is no longer enough", Theriault believes. "The government needs to reassure the public that their data is safe." www.sophos.com

Image: People are concerned that visitors to local authority buildings are able to use wireless networks and gain unauthorised access to confidential data

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