Stolen HSE laptop contained “sensitive information”

It has emerged that one of the laptops stolen from HSE offices in Roscommon last weekend contained “sensitive information” relating to cases involving nine different families.

The HSE announced yesterday (Thursday ) that an incident report had been completed into the theft of 15 laptops from its offices in Roscommon town last Friday.

Of the 15 laptops, 13 were encrypted, while two of the stolen laptops were password protected but not encrypted. While the HSE are satisfied that there was no identifying information in relation to patients or clients on one of the non-encrypted laptops, the other contained sensitive information related to a social worker’s case notes involving nine families.

In a statement yesterday, the HSE said it “deeply regrets any upset caused to the individuals affected by this robbery”.

“We will now endeavour to personally inform all of the families and individuals involved and offer a personal briefing...with local HSE staff. They will be given a letter advising them in relation to the theft of the laptop and the compromised information,” read the statement.

They also appealed to those who stole the laptops to return them to any Garda station.

The HSE began the process of encrypting all laptops in September last year, and says it is committed to ensuring the protection of personal and client data.

“The HSE takes the issue of data protection extremely seriously. At any time there are 5,400 active laptops in the HSE - so far 91 per cent have been encrypted. While 100 per cent encryption is the organisation’s stated goal and the process to encrypt is ongoing, it must be appreciated that the HSE is a very large and complex organisation with many laptops dispersed throughout the country in hospitals and remote community-based settings.

“The laptop encryption process gives priority to those laptops storing clinical and other sensitive data. The circumstances in relation to the non-encryption of the stolen laptop in Roscommon are currently being reviewed and the necessary actions will be taken by the HSE if it is found that the standard directive to personnel has been breached.”



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