Public Sector Lacks IT Security Sense

An adviser to the UK Cabinet warns that civil servants’ low awareness of data security threats puts information collected by the government at risk.

A key advisor to the Cabinet Office on information assurance issues, said that with the exception of the police, defence and intelligence communities, public servants have little grasp of information security threats. “What keeps me awake at night is that, with some notable exceptions, across government there’s too little awareness of the scale and breadth of the risk facing us at the moment,” he said.

Ignorance of information security threats at board level is actually more of a threat than the threats themselves, according to Burton. “No-one knows the scale of the risk. We need to energise boards. The technical risks are nothing compared with ignorance at board level,” he said in a panel discussion at a British Computer Society (BCS) security event this week.

The UK government recently announced two sets of controversial plans around data use – plans to form the database for the ID Cards National Identity Register from three existing databases, and plans to relax data-sharing laws so government departments can share information more easily.

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