When dealing with sensitive and personal data, its encryption is always a major issue. To show how important the encryption of data is for its protection, it is not even necessary to think of dramatic hacker attacks or the like. The dangerous scenarios are much more commonplace and occur worldwide.
Data breakdown after too much alcohol
After an employee of an IT service provider in Japan visited a pub after work, this ended in a data breach. The employee exceeded his limits while drinking alcohol and then fell asleep on the street. When he woke up, his bag had disappeared. In addition to his smartphone, it also contained a USB stick with residents' registration data.
The company where this man worked was contracted by the city to support the disbursement of Corona aid. For this purpose, the USB stick in question contained data on the more than 460,000 inhabitants of a city in the south of Japan. Among other things, name, address, bank and tax data as well as date of birth were affected.
Fortunately, the bag was found by tracking the smartphone. The city then apologized to the citizens, but also clarified that the data had been encrypted and the USB stick had been password-protected.
Data breach at British tax website
The UK Department for Work and Pensions was forced to temporarily take its official website offline after a USB stick containing confidential data was found in a public parking lot. The website is used to enable citizens and businesses to access various services from several government agencies. About 12 million users are registered there.
The USB stick in question contained user IDs and passwords for the government gateway. According to experts, this data could have been used to gain access to the data of registered users. The Ministry of Labor and Pensions contradicted this. It was merely encrypted access data for an old version of the system.
An external service provider was responsible for the loss, having lost it in the parking lot of a pub. The international service provider is still investigating how this could have happened. The prime minister commented on the incident by saying that there must be new guidelines for handling confidential data in order to "finally solve the problem of leaving things lying around.
Conclusion: Encryption is important!
These two catchy examples show how important the encryption of data is for its protection. It becomes apparent that the risk of loss increases the more actors (e.g., external service providers) are involved. At the same time, it is becoming clear that the risk that materializes when data is lost is not "the problem of leaving things lying around." Rather, it is about the problem of not encrypting and backing up data. If a USB stick containing data is encrypted and password-secured, as in the case from Japan, the risk of data being compromised is very low. Likewise, the consequences of the incident are then low. Encryption is therefore essential when handling (sensitive) data.
Our team of experts is also available to provide you with advice and support on the subject of data encryption!