The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) has reprimanded another organisation for breaching the Data Protection Act, this time a school in Oldham which lost the personal information of 90 students after an unencrypted laptop was stolen from a teacher's car.
The Freehold Community School was not aware that it needed to encrypt portable and mobile storage devices, although it did have a policy that staff should not leave laptops in cars parked outside school grounds, according to the ICO.
"The fact that the school was unaware of the need to encrypt the information stored on the laptop shows that many organisations continue to process personal information without having the most basic security measures in place," said ICO acting head of enforcement Sally-Anne Poole.
Getting the basics right was a central theme of deputy information commissioner David Smith's keynote speech at the Infosecurity Europe event in London on Wednesday, when he repeatedly expressed frustration that firms continue to ignore important data protection steps.
"It's still the same old story," he said of the Freehold breach. "Would you believe it? The message still hasn't got through about encrypting portable devices."
The school's head teacher, Joyce Willetts, has now signed a formal undertaking with the watchdog to ensure that devices including laptops, USBs and other portable media are encrypted, and that staff are trained on how to follow policy.
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