Information Commissioner highlights importance of data standards during downturn
05 January 2012
Posted by Samuel Couratin
The current economic downturn could have a detrimental effect on data protection standards, the UK's watchdog has warned.
Christopher Graham, the Information Commissioner, predicted investment in security may be a victim of tighter financial conditions, but this could prove harmful to organizations and individuals.
He issued the warning as he outlined the priorities that have been set for the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) during 2012 and stated on the regulator's blog: "Businesses under pressure in the downturn must be tempted to cut corners and push boundaries.
"That's a bad call, since the first casualty of a big data breach is going to be a brand's reputation. Consumers will abandon companies that disrespect their privacy."
According to Mr Graham, rising levels of information are being demanded of organizations, but many are having their security budgets cut at the same time.
However, he warned that the watchdog is committed to upholding standards and will issue penalties of up to £500,000 for the most serious breaches of UK regulations in this area.
The ICO head also pointed out that the EU Commission's plans for a data legal protection framework are expected within the next few weeks.
One growing threat that businesses have been warned to tackle is the one posed to security by increasing use of mobile computing and consumer devices.
Ian Kilpatrick, Chairman of mobile specialist Wick Hill Group, explained that companies failing to address such problems "are risking their reputation and business on a single point of failure - their most careless employee".
He pointed to the stream of news stories about organizations losing unencrypted information that have been seen in recent years, adding this is often the result of mistakes by members of staff and is "only the tip of a large data loss iceberg".
Mr Kilpatrick advocated secure mobile computing standards inside and outside workplaces, pointing to the increasingly strict fines being enforced by the ICO recently.