UK's NHS loses 6,000 smartcards

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The NHS has misplaced as many as 6,000 smartcards used to access patient records..

The organisation claimed that there is no cause for concern since the cards are useless without a Pin. But the case has highlighted poor data practice yet again by a government department.

"The worrying thing about this, and the many other high-profile breaches, is that the best practice processes and procedures needed to avoid these are laid out in government guidelines (for example ISO 27001)," said Mike Small, director of security strategy at CA.

"Perhaps there is a need for a combination of incentives and penalties to be implemented to make sure that these best practices are actually followed."

However, some observers maintain that fears of data loss are being exaggerated, and that the need for data to be accessed by all outweighs any problems with access.

"In the kind of environment where this system is being used, it is vital that the right people are able to access the necessary information as quickly and accurately as possible. It could even be a matter of life and death," said Paul Malcolm, UK general manager at Sentillion, which works with NHS Trusts on some IT projects.

"Having a simple physical device such as a smartcard enables this. Of course it is also important to make sure that all this private information is only available to the correct people, and this is why the second factor of authentication is so critical."

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