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Police protect data from hackers

PUBLISHED: 11:23 15 July 2009 | UPDATED: 14:24 03 July 2010

NORFOLK police are to encrypt all force laptops to try to stop sensitive data falling into the wrong hands.

Computer technicians began work last month installing new protection after an audit of IT systems identified "known weaknesses in how we manage laptops and data security".

NORFOLK police are to encrypt all force laptops to try to stop sensitive data falling into the wrong hands.

Computer technicians began work last month installing new protection after an audit of IT systems identified “known weaknesses in how we manage laptops and data security”.

The move to step up security comes as the force looks to provide frontline officers with laptops and BlackBerry devices, potentially increasing the risk of data going missing.

A force spokesman stressed there had been no security breach to prompt the review but there were fears that, until now, laptops could be hacked into by anybody with a good knowledge of computer protection.

The spokesman added: “We raised this particular risk ourselves through knowledge of best practice. Our laptops already have a high level of security and we are strengthening that security even further. There have been no specific incidents: this is prudent housekeeping.”

Encryption will make information unreadable to anybody accessing a computer without a special key.

Elsewhere in the UK there have been high-profile cases of data being lost. Last year, the Ministry of Defence confirmed it had lost 69 unencrypted laptops, including one containing details of 600,000 potential recruits.

Norfolk police have been working on a mobile computing project to cut the amount of paperwork that burdens officers. This would see patrol cars being kitted out with laptops and BlackBerry devices so they can complete their paperwork while on the streets.

The project - with an estimated cost of £248,000 - had been put on hold as part of a spending review. Even so, the force is considering bids from suppliers.

If it goes ahead, hundreds more laptops will be bought and they will be used on the streets daily.

A committee of Norfolk Police Authority will discuss the encrypt-ion project and proposed purchase of new computers today.

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