Local councils Step Up Security

26 June 2013

Study reveals mobile and collaborative working on the increase, but data storage remains an issue

Local councils are becoming increasingly wary of consumer file storage tools with more than half (54 per cent) of local councils blacklisting services such as Dropbox. The research gathered from 350 local councils on their technology usage, via the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), has also found that 17 per cent of local councils only allow use of these tools for specific business cases or projects. Surprisingly, only a fifth of councils have yet to blacklist consumer file storage tools.

With the research revealing that local council workers are becoming increasingly mobile, data storage and security is proving to be a significant issue. While 83 per cent of local councils state that they have either a mobile working policy or alternative policies that cover mobile working in place, many still rely on external storage devices. However, security measures are mixed across the country with only 13 per cent of councils questioned responsible for the loss of all (85) of the USB sticks lost nationwide in 2012.

BYOD trend extends to public sector

With the influx of innovative technologies and gadgets in people’s personal lives, the BYOD trend has permeated the public sector as well as the private one. More than half (56 per cent) of the councils surveyed said staff can access government content on their own device. Although some remain cautious as of this percentage, six councils only allow access on approved devices, 18 allow access to restricted personnel only, 11 only allow access for non-restricted content and eight per cent only offer access to email.

The loss of laptops has also decreased. In 2011, there were 482 laptops reported lost or stolen and three councils lost more than 20. This dropped to 412 in 2012, with just one council losing more than 20 laptops and 64 per cent losing none at all. Security is clearly a top priority for many local councils, with 70 per cent saying council laptops were encrypted with the appropriate policies and protective technologies in place. A further three per cent said sensitive data was not held on laptops at all. Only seven per cent said they could not guarantee it at all.

Public sector boost take up of innovative technology

Local councils are embracing more collaborative ways of working with more than half (53 per cent) of councils using collaboration software. With the public sector facing the same data deluge as the private sector, many councils are turning to innovative technologies to manage their workloads more effectively and efficiently.

“It’s clear from the results that the public sector is more tech savvy than it’s often given credit for. Measures have been taken to secure consumer tools and devices and many have embraced mobile working, offering staff access to content on secure devices,” said Alastair Mitchell, CEO, Huddle. “There are still a few councils failing to stop some devices and services slipping through the security net, and they need to follow the best practices that others are demonstrating. With a lot of talk around big data in the private sector, it’s important not to forget that public sector organisations often face the same data challenges. They also need innovative enterprise technologies to support a workforce that is constantly bombarded with information. As a secure cloud service provider that has been trusted by governments for years, it’s great to see so many organisations now looking at collaboration services to help streamline processes and improve efficiency.”

Huddle works with numerous local councils and 80 per cent of central UK government departments, offering all the benefits of next generation content collaboration platform that is pan government accredited at IL2.