Care Quality Commission
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CQC publishes independent review into data security breach

On 28 July 2016 CQC publicly reported a data security breach involving the loss of Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) certificates from CQC premises in Newcastle. Following this incident and the internal Serious Incident Report, an independent, external review of the incident was commissioned.

This review – conducted by an independent security expert who interviewed CQC staff, inspected CQC premises and reviewed documentation – has now been published.

The purpose of the review was to establish how the data loss incident occurred; to review the organisation’s response to the incident; to examine relevant information security policies and procedures; and to make recommendations on how these could be improved.

The review agrees with the conclusion of the internal CQC Serious Incident Report that the missing documents are unlikely ever to be recovered and that it is unlikely that the loss occurred as a result of theft.

Failure to recognise information risk, non-compliance with CQC’s own information security policy and a failure to follow and manage the project plan for the office refurbishment project during which the loss occurred are all identified as factors that contributed to the data breach. The review concludes that, although failings on the part of contractors involved in the office refurbishment were also a contributing factor, the contractors cannot be held responsible for the breach.

The overall information security architecture of CQC was found to be’ fundamentally sound’. However, information security policies are only robust if all staff adhere to them. The review has recommended that work is done to ensure that all CQC staff understand best practice on information security and reflect this practice in their everyday behaviours.

The review makes six recommendations in total. The first five of these relate to information risk management, incident response management and supply chain risk management, while the sixth is that CQC should embark on a programme of security culture change in order to become an exemplary information security organisation. All recommendations are being followed up and incorporated into a wider programme of work to embed information security and governance into CQC culture; this will include working with other organisations to identify good practice, staff training and organisational spot checks.

Alongside the review, CQC is publishing a response that sets out the actions it will take to ensure that these recommendations are addressed. The organisation is committed to ensuring that every possible step is taken to guard against any future data security breaches.

Information security review – External review report PDF 2.17 MB

Information security review – CQC response PDF 128.46 KB

Read our initial statement on the loss of the DBS documentation and the internal incident report.


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