A data breach that would have affected all barristers in England and Wales was averted via the use of disk encryption software. Without the data protection software in place, the theft of a laptop and four hard disk drives would have meant the possible disclosure of names, bank account numbers, and sort codes for 3,000 barristers who pay the Bar Council via direct deposit (the Bar Council is the governing body of barristers. I assume it would collect dues, like any governing body of professionals). It would have also revealed the details of people who filed a complaint against barristers, about 1,500 cases.
Technically, this being the Bar Council, it would have affected all barristers across the UK (read: lawyers), about 17,000 of them. According to the timesonline.co.uk, however, one should bear in mind that the same information is available from other on-line sources as well, so the revelation of such data can hardly be considered a data breach.
This year is something of a watershed for data protection in the UK. The year started off with numerous losses of digital data devices like laptops, hard disks, CDs, and USB memory sticks. It seemed like there was at least one reported case of data breach per week (never mind how many went unreported). And in most cases, data protection software was not used to secure the contents in those devices.
This was a continuation of a couple of disastrous breaches the UK faced at the end of last year, notable among them the disappearance of a couple of HMRC CDs that contained the details of nearly half the UK population.
But, recent cases have revealed more and more instances where encryption software like AlertBoot was used to ensure that personal information remains private, which I think are the beginnings of a turning tide. While one shouldn’t assign cause and effect lightly, I’d say it looks like media coverage regarding breaches had a hand in encouraging the implementation of data protection practices.
Well, that and a well-informed public. Unlike people leaving comments at websites in the US, I’ve found that comments on UK sites tend to often demand why encryption was not used to secure the contents, with nary a person giving the victims some benefit of the doubt (companies that practice little to no data security are still victims regardless of how you may feel about them. I mean, stuff was stolen from them.)
With an entire country clamoring for the use of encryption software to protect data, as opposed to relying on locked doors (easily picked) and locked windows (easily broken), it’s not surprising that you’ll have greater instances of data being protected, and breaches being averted.