The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has just reported a 25% increase in data breaches in Q3. This reflects a continuing upward trend. Type of breaches include: personal information disclosed in error, lost or stolen paperwork, plus loss of hardware containing sensitive information. The shame is that with proper data handling procedures and staff training, these errors are nearly wholly preventable. With ICO fines of up to £500k, the countermeasures required are neither onerous nor expensive for businesses. Breaches have taken place across public and private sectors, with the UK’s greatest sinner being healthcare, accounting for 38% of all reported breaches. With 2014 being the year that the proposed EU Data Directive comes into force, organisations will rightly face greater scrutiny about how they handle data. Our advice to business is to get your house in order by reviewing data handling and data storage processes and rectify gaps before you face commercial loss, bad PR fallout – as well as possibly the anger of the ICO and a hefty fine.