What can housing learn from the honours list leak?

Guest blog by information security experts Matt Smith and Bruce Thomson

The time between Christmas and new year – the limbo days of ‘Twixtmas’ - can feel a bit of a blur, but this year will be well remembered (perhaps not for the best) by those involved in the new year honours list leak. This data breach made headlines when a list containing the names and addresses of more than 1,000 prominent figures set to receive honours was published on the GOV.UK website.

Last year there were several high-profile data issues at housing providers, and the number of breaches is on the rise. With costly fines seen in other sectors, as well as the ethical responsibility we all share to protect our customers’ data, landlords need to be on top of data protection issues. So, what can we learn from the honours list leak? The full details of what happened are yet to be revealed, but human error is the likely cause, and this should certainly be a wake-up call for any organisation which handles personal data.

All landlords, like the UK government, should have processes in place to stop a breach happening in the first place, but now is the time to ensure that everything is in order in the light of this high-profile incident.

HouseMark’s Information Security Forum (ISF) is a place for key people from housing associations to come together to discuss and collaborate on issues around cyber security and governance. It is linked to the cyber security experts in central government via the WARP (Warning Advice and Reporting Point) mechanism. The sessions blend a mixture of facilitated meetings and secure online workspaces to support effective knowledge exchange and support. Find out more at https://www.housemark.co.uk/premium-tools/consultancy/information-security-forum or contact emily.cullingham@housemark.co.uk.    

Bruce Thomson is a cybersecurity practitioner, develop and researcher with more than 40 years’ experience in information technology and communication. He was one of the founding members of ISfL (Information Security for London), the very first WARP established in 2003.

Matt Smith is an expert in Information Security and currently manages the London Councils’ WARP as well as leading HouseMark’s ISF. He has worked in cybersecurity and information governance for over 15 years and is part of an extensive network of expert practitioners and suppliers.

By Natalia Karska

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