The number of data breaches reported to the UK's information regulator by the legal sector has seen a huge increase over the last few years, new figures have revealed.
Details from the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO), obtained by Egress, showed there was a 127 per cent increase in incidents reported by law firms and barristers' chambers over the last three years. What's more, the number of breaches affecting the courts and justice sector rose by 500 per cent.
Egress noted that the main cause of data breaches across all sectors was human error, with this being a key factor in almost two-thirds of reported cases (62 per cent).
The specific types of errors included posting or faxing information to the wrong recipient (17 per cent of human error cases), loss and theft of paperwork (also 17 per cent), and emailing data to the wrong recipient (nine per cent). Other causes included insecure disposal of hardware and paperwork, loss or theft of unencrypted devices, and failure to redact data.
Egress chief executive Tony Pepper commented: "Human error and data breach incidents continue to go hand-in-hand. Time and again we're faced with this reality and yet as today's statistics show, little effective action seems to have been taken to improve the situation. Clearly at a board level, mistakes continue to be made as priorities aren't balanced, leaving companies exposed."
This is not the first time that the legal sector has been warned of the risk of data breaches. Last year, Solicitors Journal reported that research from independent mail operator DX found more than half of lawyers believe firms aren't doing enough to protect confidential data, while one in ten professionals admit they have no measures in place to reduce the risk of data loss.
Richard Syers, the ICO's lead policy officer, has also stated that solicitors and barristers were the subject of 4.5 per cent of all data breaches reported to his office in 2015.