Tuesday, 19th June 2012, 12:25:45
The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) has released a new guide which will help businesses improve their data, IT and online security.
It features a host of practical steps they can take, including using anti-virus defences and initiating training to improve employee awareness.
A checklist is also part of the guide, while there is detailed information on securing data on the move, keeping systems up-to-date and minimising the amount of data which is held by a company.
Organisations should be aware that serious data breaches could lead to a monetary fine of up to £500,000.
Christopher Graham, the information commissioner, said that since November 2010 the ICO has served monetary penalties totalling over £1.5 million.
"While we recognise that the biggest companies and organisations will have many of these strategies already in place and have spent a great deal of money on securing their IT systems, smaller enterprises often tell us that they would benefit from simple and clear advice specifically designed for them," he added.
Mr Graham noted that the guide provides a starting point and features recommendations which cost little to adopt, however these can "significantly reduce the risks of a serious data loss" and therefore the reputational and financial damage which could follow.
Mike Cherry, policy chairman for the Federation of Small Businesses, said that the information could be "important" for organisations.
"Good IT and data security should be part and parcel of good business practice and businesses should think about the simple steps that they can put in place to achieve this. The guidance should help businesses do this."
The negative impact of breaching the Data Protection Act was recently highlighted when Telford and Wrekin Council was issued with a penalty of £90,000 by the ICO.
It was found to have disclosed confidential and sensitive personal data relating to four vulnerable children and came after two similar incidents which occurred within two months of each other.
David Smith, deputy commissioner and director of Data Protection at the ICO, said that it is the responsibility of all organisations to keep sensitive personal data secure.
Posted by Phil Williams
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