Some security breaches can be directly traced back to lost or stolen media containing personally identifiable information. Depending on what technology companies use to back up their data, the cause of a security breach can be a simple theft of a USB stick or external hard drive. On the one hand, it’s convenient that a large amount of data can be stored on a tiny device. On the other hand, it’s hard to protect media from theft.

In this article, we’ll explore three cases of media loss or theft and how it affected the companies in question. Then we’ll offer a few suggestions on how you can keep your information safe.


U.K. Driving Standards Agency Lost Data on 3 Million Driving Test Candidates

The U.K. Department of Transport had to apologize for losing data on about 3 million candidates for the driving test. The information was saved on a hard drive and included names, addresses, and phone numbers.

The hard drive was sent to a third-party contractor located in the United States. The data itself was transferred electronically. The hard drive made the journey to another state before it was brought back to Iowa. In Iowa, the trail ended and the hard drive was reported missing during an audit in June of 2007.

As a result of this incident, the British Department of Transport is evaluating how it stores data, especially since this isn’t the first time information was lost. The solution will lie in transferring information electronically and storing less information. After all, some of the data stolen in an earlier breach was fairly old and not really needed.

Anyone affected by this security breach can relax, because the data that went missing isn’t likely to cause a lot of problems. After all, the information on the hard drive can easily be found in the phone book. Nevertheless, officials apologized for the incident and promised increased security in the future.


U.K. Healthcare Hackney NHS Loses Data on 160,000 Children

In 2008, the City and Hackney Teaching Primary Care Trust (CHTPCT) made a serious blunder when data on 160,000 children was stolen. According to the organization, the lost discs were heavily encrypted. But an investigation revealed that all of the mobile devices and PCs belonging to the company needed to be made more secure.

How did the discs get into the wrong hands? The blame can be laid on a specific individual who made an error in judgement. The courier who delivered the discs was given clear instructions on whom to give them to. He knew the name, address, and phone number of the intended recipient. Nevertheless, he handed the package to a white male named “David” who was standing on his side of the reception desk. Presumably, this allowed him to save time and get on with his job for the rest of the day.

According to Tim Wilson at CHTPCT, this “individual’s stupidity” led to increased security measures for all the data stored on NHS (National Health Services in the U.K.) devices. And instead of differentiating between sensitive data and public data, NHS is erring on the side of caution and encrypting everything. Considering that it would take too much time to delete sensitive data and ensure that it’s really deleted, that makes a lot of sense.

Hopefully, such security blunders won’t happen again in the future, especially since NHS has so much information that could harm a lot of people.


Hard Drive Theft Compromises Personal Data of 180,000 Patients

As if having to go to the emergency room isn’t enough of a hardship, 180,000 patients of Emergency Healthcare Physicians now also have to worry about identity theft. In February of 2010, a portable hard drive was stolen from Millennium Medical Management Resources, a billing company for Emergency Healthcare Physicians.

The theft potentially affected 180,000 patients who visited the emergency room between 2003 and 2006. The hard drive contained names, birth dates, Social Security numbers, addresses, phone numbers, and in some cases driver’s license numbers and medical and insurance information of these patients.

This is a very serious security breach that can result in many cases of identity theft. While Emergency Healthcare Physicians sent notifications to the affected patients, they did not offer any additional help, such as free credit monitoring. Unfortunately, that’s not uncommon. In all cases of a serious security breach like this one, the burden is placed on the consumer to monitor their identity and their credit to ensure that nobody is misusing their personal information.


The Importance of Securing Your Data Storage

Using hard drives and USB sticks is convenient for storing large amounts of data. After all, it’s a good idea to have a backup for your files. Nevertheless, it’s easier to steal portable disks, drives, and memory sticks than laptops or computers because of their size.

Therefore, your company needs to take the proper precautions to ensure that your media is properly secured and locked away. Additionally, it makes sense to encrypt any information stored on the media to make it impossible to access in case of a theft.


The Advantages of Using eFileCabinet for Online Storage

In light of lost or stolen media files, the advantages for backing up your files in the cloud are obvious. While hackers may attempt to access your documents in the cloud, encryption and security codes make this tedious and difficult. On the other hand, it doesn’t take a lot of skill to steal a portable device and sell it to the highest bidder.

eFileCabinet takes cyber security seriously. We want to keep you, your employees, and your customers safe from data losses as a result of lost or stolen media. If you’re concerned about data loss as a result of lost or stolen media, then our online document management system might be the right solution for you.