Data security in the public sector

Particularly in the public sector – where confidential, sensitive, and personally identifiable information is routinely collected, stored, and used – data security is of the utmost importance. In this edition of Opinion, Nicola Lister, NDL’s Finance Director and Data Protection Officer, explores the intricacies of upholding security practices in further detail.

What do we mean by data security?

Data security is a hot topic across the UK, especially within the public sector. We must all be vigilant with the protection and safeguarding of information, be that physical or digital.  Not only are organisations vulnerable to cyberattacks, but also the actions of people (whether intentional or not). However, data security risks that arise at any stage of the data lifecycle - from collection to storage or destruction - can be mitigated with the use of technology, policies, and training.

Cyber resilience in the public sector

The key data objective for any organisation is the ability to ensure data is secure whilst maintaining uninterrupted availability of relevant data for services to be delivered. The NDL Evolve Transformation Platform allows our community to maximise the accessibility of data throughout the data lifecycle, for use in the essential services they provide. Though making data more accessible is a common objective, the security of the data is always of the highest importance.

NDL have, and regularly reviews, policies relating to maintaining data security. We are members of the Information Commissioners Office, and each year renew Cyber Essentials and the NHS Digital Data Security and Protection Toolkit. We take data security very seriously, whether it be in the design of our products (and therefore the protection of our customer’s data), the design of our internal systems or our staff and corporate data practices. Data security is at the forefront of all aspects of our business processes. In particular, we, and all organisations, need to take special care with regard to personal data.

How do digital processes help in keeping data secure?

Digital processing of data is now ubiquitous but how can we keep the data safe and prevent it from falling into the wrong hands? In this section, we’ll take a look at three core technologies used by the public sector.

Robotic process automation

Also known as RPA, robotic process automation can play a key role in data security. Allowing the input, updating and synchronisation of data without human intervention, RPA does not just provide administrative relief for rule-based processes, but also removes the need for people to view, move or manipulate sensitive data at all.

By processing information digitally, organisations can easily reduce the risk of unauthorised access to data and assists with compliance with GDPR rules. Data entry errors are often significantly decreased, with no accidental changes or leaking of information to unauthorised areas.

Mobile applications & eForms

Another great approach to improving data security is front-end digitisation. Particularly in the UK public sector, data is still frequently collected on paper – be that internal or public facing. Data capture is essential within healthcare, local government, housing, education and policing organisations, and though paper-based processes might seem the most convenient, they are usually the least secure.

Switching to mobile apps and eForms can significantly improve data security. One of the most obvious data security implications of paper-based data capture is the data loss risk. Paper is easily lost, stolen or damaged, making it easy for breaches and errors to occur. With the help of digitisation, we integrate data capture directly with back-office systems – removing rekeying processes saving time and reducing risk. Once data is held electronically appropriate measures can be put in place to keep the data secure and mitigate against cyberattacks.

Improving data security with digital transformations

Interest to learn more about improving data security through the use of RPA, mobile apps and eForms? Why not join us at one of our next online and in-person events, or get inspired with our library of real-life public sector use cases? Our team is always on hand to discuss your organisation’s goals, requirements and projects – don’t hesitate to get in touch, or click here to book a free demo.