Government slips again on data security

Government slips again on data security

Murderers missing after disk mistake

The UK government is again in the dock over data security after losing a disk containing details of foreign criminals operating in Britain.

The disk was sent by Dutch police a year ago and contained genetic information on criminals they believed to be active in the UK.

But the data was only found and used a few weeks ago when it was matched with 15 people, including 11 who have committed further crimes in Britain including rape and murder.

"Criminals do not respect national borders. It is essential that data is shared between countries so that law enforcement agencies can collaborate to track down dangerous individuals," said Alan Bentley, vice president of Lumension Security.

"However, without implementing the necessary security procedures to protect this data in transit, we will continue to see these types of data blunders."

Bentley believes that, if the government does not address best practice for taking control of data flow between internal departments, it will suffer a " serious vote of no confidence" from its European neighbours when it comes to tackling crime.

The incident has raised further questions about the ability of government departments to manage data correctly, and is causing concern over the integrity of projects like national ID cards.

"This is a classic data management issue," said Simon Forster, a consultant at IT consultancy firm Morse. "When a disk, document or anything else containing data comes into an organisation it needs to be logged and then managed."