ICO warns of surge in UK healthcare data leak

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has reported that data breaches in Britain’s healthcare sector have doubled.

Health organisations have suffered 183 data leaks caused by human error in 2014, in comparison to only 91 breaches that were reported this time last year. This 101% increase in healthcare cyber breaches represented the highest number of incidents, followed by local government and education organisations, the ICO said.

This was accompanied by an increase in central government data breaches.

CEO of Encryption firm Egress Software, Tony Pepper has described the news as worrying.

‘The upward trend in the number of data breaches throughout key sectors of the public sector should be a cause for continued concern,’ he said. ‘These organisations are handling particularly sensitive information, with local government providing services direct to and on behalf of citizens, many of whom are vulnerable or at-risk.

‘It is also interesting to note the increase in breaches within the private sector as well. While the data they hold is often of a commercially-sensitive nature, it will still include personal information about their clients.’

‘There should be a subsequent call to action within the private sector to address areas of concern and gaps in data protection, enhancing the services they provide to clients and their reputation within their markets.’


The ICO has fined organisations a total £6.7 million since 2010 for violations under the data protection act, with the public sector responsible for £4.5 million of this.


Pepper said: ‘To date, the ICO has levied in excess of £6.7 million in fines. It is alarming to see that well over half of [the ICO’s fines] is coming from the public sector alone.’


‘In particular, local government have contributed over one-third to this total. Not only are these organisations and bodies responsible for handling citizens data, their malpractice is being paid for by the public pocket.’

Tags: ,