The Barnet Council has reported that it has lost records of almost 9,000 school children residing in the Borough, following a burglary at the home of a council employee, who had downloaded the sensitive data on an unencrypted USB stick without the knowledge of the superiors.
According to a statement released by the council, the stolen information included explicit details about the school children including names, entitlement to free meals, education details, postal codes and phone numbers.
The council has written an apology letter to the parents of the children and has detailed what information was stolen.
Barnet council also reported that the incident had prompted it to revamp its data security and added that “We have disabled any access to external storage devices meaning no-one can make unauthorised copies in the future.”
Meanwhile, the council has asked office administration to encrypt each and every computer in the council's office and it is also planning an over-all review on the how the employees handle to data.
However, despite of the strict data safety rules applied by the council, the employee in question downloaded the data on the USB stick which was not duly encrypted. The employee responsible for the data theft has been suspended by the council.
This is a very unfortunate incident indeed and one which could potentially have devastating impact if it falls in wrong hands. The public sector holds so much information on us all that fatally, it is very difficult to avoid losing data altogether.