'Worrying' numbers had access to data centres holding confidential info

Brian Watkins, Liberal Democrat county councillor for Eaton. Pic: Liberal Democrats.

Brian Watkins, Liberal Democrat county councillor for Eaton. - Credit: Liberal Democrats

Security has been beefed up at Norfolk County Council after it emerged "worrying" numbers of people had access to data centres containing confidential information.

The number of people with access to the council's data centres, including external contractors, has been whittled down from about 80 to 20 after the findings of an audit.

Council bosses said people who had access, via a card, could not see the actual data, as it is stored encrypted and password protected.

Norfolk County Council at County Hall in Norwich

The number of people with access to Norfolk County Council's data centres has been reduced after an audit. - Credit: Archant

The council says the most sensitive system containing data on adult and children's services social care is hosted in a separate dedicated high security data centre elsewhere in the UK. 

But the audit triggered a cull of the number of people who did have access.

Brian Watkins, Liberal Democrat county councillor for Eaton, asked questions about the situation at a meeting of the council's audit committee.

County council officer Teresa Sharman, said: "When we did this audit, we did find that quite a few people seemed to have access to the data centres, which is worrying, because we would have expected this to be restricted to a few people for certain reasons."

Most Read

She said the number of people with access had been cut from about 80 to "between 15 and 20".

Mr Watkins said: "Errors will occur and be corrected, but the apparent lack of oversight in this particular case is very disturbing.

"The public relies on the council to keep its confidential data private, and it must do all it can to ensure it has the confidence of the public to do so."

Geoff Connell. Picture: Norfolk County Council

Geoff Connell. Picture: Norfolk County Council - Credit: Norfolk County Council

Geoff Connell, director of information management and technology and chief digital officer, said: "Norfolk County Council takes data security very seriously and has extensive controls in place to that ensure data can only be accessed by those authorised. 

"We regularly commission audits to identify opportunities for improvements, which as demonstrated in this case, were implemented very quickly."

In 2013, new security measures were introduced at County Hall after an intruder filmed himself and his dog wandering through the offices at County Hall.

He posted YouTube videos showing himself reading documents in the council's legal department.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter