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Introduction to cyber security: stay safe online
Introduction to cyber security: stay safe online

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Recovering from a lost computer, disk or flash memory drive containing confidential data

The first question to ask is, was the data encrypted using a form of strong encryption? If it was, does it require a strong password to decrypt it? Is the password known only to you?

If the answer to any of these questions is ‘no’ then you may have a problem as the data is potentially vulnerable. If the lost property contains personal information, then you have an obligation to act under the Data Protection Act. Larger companies will have staff responsible for ensuring compliance with the DPA and you must get in contact with them as soon as possible so that steps can be taken to protect individuals. Alternatively, you can contact the Information Commissioner’s Office [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)]  for guidance.

If you have lost material containing confidential information about a company or other organisation, or which is sensitive, then you need to contact the organisation which owns the data so they can take necessary steps. In certain circumstances, this may also require the involvement of the police or security services.

If the data is securely encrypted, then the data is almost certainly safe. You should still contact the relevant authorities to inform them of the loss.