Blog: Is your police data as safe as it could be?
Data is increasingly important to effective modern policing, but only if officers can reliably and securely access that information. The completion of a government pledge to recruit 20,000 additional officers in England and Wales means the total across the force is now nearly 150,000 – a record high.
More officers means more data access, but at the same time, it’s vital to ensure that sensitive information doesn’t fall into the wrong hands. Many forces have fallen foul of data breaches in recent years, which have had severe impacts on the victims of crime, witness safety, and the career prospects of a number of officers. These incidents have also highlighted the importance of maintaining strong data protection measures and best practice, especially in order to comply with legislation such as GDPR.
More access means more security
With the increased demand for data access only set to continue in the months and years ahead, many forces have several challenges to address to keep data secure. These include, and are by no means limited to:
- Data controllers: nominated controllers have to ensure that they’re appointing data processors that are fully compliant with regulations (as set out in Article 28 of GDPR)
- Legacy systems: older systems can be more difficult to access, secure and integrate, and may need to be replaced by more modern infrastructure that enables easier sharing
- Access management: a governance layer that ensures the right level of access permissions are set for different types of data is critical
- Shared networks: with Microsoft Office 365 being deployed rapidly across forces, officers can now access data through shared networks, or drives like SharePoint, which also need to be factored into security measures
Where does the responsibility lie?
The consequences of not addressing the above can be severe. For example, vulnerable data could more easily be subject to a successful ransomware attack. Alternatively, if an officer can’t get fast access to vital data, they may not be able to do their job effectively, which in a worst-case scenario could compromise their safety.
Ultimately, the responsibility for keeping data, systems and applications safe resides with everyone in the force. It belongs to the senior management, who have to make the key decisions around spending and strategy, and it belongs to the IT department who are responsible for implementation and day-to-day management. But rank-and-file officers have just an important part to play as humans can be a major catalyst for cyber attacks. Accidental file sharing or unwittingly opening up a phishing email can lead to a breach, which is why promoting best practice throughout a force is so crucial.
However, in a strictly legal sense, in the event of a breach, the Information Commissioner’s office will fine and penalise organisations rather than individuals.
How can SCC help
Achieving the above is entirely possible, but it can be complex, time-consuming and expensive. The latter can be a particular sticking point with many forces, at a time when budget pressures are perhaps greater than ever before across the public sector. And this is where a partnership with SCC, based around an affordable managed service, can be invaluable.
We can help you bring together your legacy data, apply the correct governance and access provisions over it, and enable a new level of insights from your aggregated data. Furthermore, we go beyond technology to give you all the help and support you need in the event of a break, including opening lines of communication with the ICO and the media to manage the situation. Not only can this help you mitigate the operational damage of a breach, but also reduce the financial and reputational impacts, too.
This service also comprises a range of other important functions, that can aid with data security on a more practical level, including:
- Document scanning: scanning documents to archive projects can reduce the cost, access and storage burden of paper-based documentation. This also enables data to be integrated into digital systems, including scan-to-workflow solutions
- Inbound mail: instead of using pigeon-holes, SCC’s secure Document Production Units can receive, scan, index and electronically deliver messages to all officers, including those on the beat and unable to get to the station to receive them
- Managed print rooms: by outsourcing your print rooms to our managed service, you can introduce and optimise key strategies such as migration to digital workflows and brand management, while freeing up valuable employee time
- Intelligent content management: Through APIs and connectors, SCC’s intelligent content management; provides information, manages cross-system processes, and connects other systems. This enables you to dissolve information silos, harness the value of your existing content and simultaneously ensure data protection and security for the Police Authority.
Even at a time where cost efficiencies are key, robust security and data protection for police forces cannot be considered a ‘nice-to-have’. In a world where cybercrime is getting more sophisticated all the time, the best possible security measures are a must, and SCC has decades of experience providing them affordably to forces just like yours. To find out more and discuss your specifics, get in touch with our team today.
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