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In this information age, laptops have become an essential part of business life, allowing users to be productive wherever they are. However, laptop theft is on the increase, and as a result, many organisations have found themselves victims of potential data breaches that affect their employees, customers and their reputations. In the health sector this year several incidents have proven that laptop security is still not being treated seriously.
On Tuesday 27 March of this year, the BBC reported that health bosses in Nottinghamshire issued a warning after a laptop containing information on about 11,000 young children aged between eight months and eight years was stolen. The laptop was one of three taken from an office at King's Mill Hospital in Sutton-in-Ashfield on 21 March.
In early May it was reported that a laptop containing the personal and financial information of 10,000 NHS staff had been stolen from a hospital in Cornwall. The computer, which stored staff names, addresses and bank details, was taken from the Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust, which handles the payroll for thousands of NHS workers across the country.
Then in September it transpired that a laptop containing patient data and belonging to Dunstan Medical Centre in Bolton was stolen earlier in the summer from the home of one of the practice’s partners during a burglary.
These three separate incidents of laptop theft highlight the different ways in which the NHS can lose confidential patient and employee data if their computers are not secured, whether in an office, at an employee’s home, or even in transit.
The simplest preventative measures are being neglected. The hardware cost of any theft is difficult enough to cope with, but the impact and risk of sensitive patient data becoming public information is far worse.
In all these examples, physical security of the laptop would have provided a first line of defence and prevented all incidents. It is also the most cost effective to fund, and the most simple to deploy.
Manufacturers such as PC Guardian produces a range of anti-theft solutions for desktop and laptop computers, including locks with an ultra strong, thick above-industry-standard specification cable to the retractable security locks specifically designed for professionals on the move. Whether on business or taking business on holiday, these compact locks can be used to secure laptops, luggage, briefcases and more – at home, in the boot of a car, or in an office or hotel location.
Online key registration for free and secure registering of all PC Guardian locks in the event of losing a key gives added protection to all users.
Dr Nicholas Norwell, a medico-legal adviser for the Medical Defence Union, said it was not possible to comment on specific cases, but that the general advice was for doctors to ensure information is kept safely and securely, and that patient information remained confidential to meet both the requirements of the General Medical Council and the Data Protection Act.
The Avanquest Solutions self-help check list:
- Keep your laptop out of sight – away from a window or in the car boot.
- Keep your laptop locked at all times in all locations – office, car, home, hotel.
- Take extra care when travelling and keep a travel lock in your laptop case.
For more information
For further information on the PC Guardian locks, contact Nigel Trevena at Avanquest Solutions on 01752 241459 or email firstname.lastname@example.org quoting HBPCG 07