The number of times Brits' sensitive data has been lost or leaked in the UK has risen 1,000 per cent over the past five years. Councils recorded the biggest increase in breaches of data protection law, according to figures obtained by a Freedom of Information Act request.
The stats from the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) revealed a huge jump in the number of self-reported bungles each year since 2007. Local government data law breaches increased by 1,609 per cent over that period of time. The average increase across Blighty's private and public sectors is 1,014 per cent.
Incidents of lost or leaked information in the private sector grew 1,159 per cent in that five-year period. NHS record breaches increased 935 per cent over the same period while central government data cock-ups increased 132 per cent.
Only the telecoms sector delivered a decrease in the number of info blunders from year to year, falling from six breaches in 2010/11 to zero in 2011/2012.
The latest full-year figures log 821 data breaches in the UK in 2011/2012. Precisely how many individuals were affected by each breach was not disclosed. The most recent quarterly results show that the NHS was responsible for the most incidents in Q2 2012 with 61 breaches, closely followed by local government (59) and private business (26).
The ICO has levied £2m in fines for data cock-ups in the 12 months running up to July 2012 - more than triple the penalties handed in the previous year, when the watchdog first gained powers to fine organisations responsible for particularly serious breaches of the law. Fines are typically applied for data breach incidents involving elements of negligence, repeat offending or other aggravating factors.
"The massive increase in data breaches in just five years is fairly startling," said Nick Banks, head of EMEA and APAC at Imation Mobile Security, which filed the information request.
"Perhaps more alarming is the consistent year-on-year increase in data breaches since 2007. The figures obtained from the ICO by Imation seem to show that increasing financial penalties have had little effect on the amount of data breaches each year."
"Undoubtedly there are some mitigating circumstances which have contributed to the rise in annual data breach numbers, such as the introduction of mandatory reporting in certain sectors, plus the increasing amounts of data being stored and accessed. But none of these factors obscures the clear trend of constant increases. Organisations must take responsibility for preventing breaches, and with so much available technology there really is no excuse for failing to adequately protect data," he added. ®