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Thursday, 28 November 2013

Falkirk Council ordered to toughen up its IT security

Written by The Editorial Team

Falkirk Council faces a bill of £200,000 after being told to beef up its online security systems by the UK Cabinet Office.

Local authorities across the country have been warned by Westminster to ensure that all council-issued laptops. mobile phones and desktop PCs are sufficiently protected to ensure confidential data cannot be removed should they fall into the wrong hands.

Falkirk Council will divide its networks so that schools use a different system from other local authority-run departments.

Fiona Campbell, head of IT, said: “The biggest risk to any network is teenagers - with potentially more knowledge than us - finding a way into the network, which is why they have said that school networks have to be separate from the council’s.”

There have been several high-profile incidents in recent years in which personal information has been unlawfully removed from computers belonging to different authorities.

In September, Aberdeen Council was fined £100,000 by the Information Commissioner after an employee published vulnerable children’s details online.

The sensitive social services information was released after a staff member accessed documents from her home computer.

Only four of the penalties imposed by the Information Commissioner in the year ending April 2013 fell on private sector firms, with the public sector copping fines of £2.09 million out of a total of £2.61 million

A spokesman for Falkirk Council said: “The council takes technical and IT security very seriously and already has robust methods in place to ensure protection of confidential and sensitive information as well as ensuring our basic systems are secure and robust.

“Guidance from the Cabinet Office has suggested a number of ways standards could be increased across the UK and we have already responded to them indicating how we will achieve these new standards.

“The Cabinet Office has now given us accreditation of our security arrangements.

“The new standards affect our systems, equipment and network including remote access into our network to access emails. However, elected members, along with essential staff, will continue to have remote access to emails through secure and encrypted equipment, including phones.”