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back to article Hospital loses vital cancer research to thieves

Police in Leeds are appealing for help tracking down a man suspected of stealing a computer containing developmental cancer research software that hadn't been backed up. The HP desktop unit - described as containing "vital" original software - and a laptop were taken from the Bexley Wing of St James' Hospital at about 7.30pm on …

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And someone else learns

1) That the data on a computer is worth much, much more than the hardware, including backup systems.

2) The time to start thinking about computer backups is BEFORE you buy the machine.

3) The amount of money saved by not using competent IT staff is usually a negative number.

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FAIL

No sympathy at all...

It's new and therefore it wasn't backed up?!

Why the hell is "vital" data stored on a DESKTOP and then NOT backed up?!?!

I couldn't care less what they say to be honest. Actions speak louder than words, as such the data can't be that important.

Hopefully it will teach the relevant people a lesson.

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WTF?

Not acceptable

Ok- it's pretty low stealing from a hospital, but not having a backup of this software is completely unacceptable.

They didn't back it up because the laptop was new? So if it was an older laptop they would have a backup?

Presumably whoever was working on this software must of had some kind of IT experience? How can they not keep copies of it?

If you're working at the bleeding edge of research you should be keeping a secure backup somewhere surely. Maybe they were worried about some numpty losing the USB key he backed the software up on to while riding the train.

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No excuse

There's no excuse for not having proper backups these days. There are plenty of solutions which will automatically synchronise critical data from laptops to central repositories, and it should be done from the day the machine is set-up.

One wonders if we would have heard of this if the data had been wiped out by a disk crash, corrupted file system, mis-op, lost machine or any other case where a miscreant couldn't be blamed.

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Paris Hilton

Just plain stupid. NHS all over

Just seems stupid to have data on a desktop just like Random Noise said. Data should be on a server. What if the Hard drive developed a fault, there was a fire, someone deleted data!!

Once again the NHS shines through and I am assuming its the NHS Connecting for Health IT service that set this up and cocked it up as they are completely useless and don't know their arseholes from their elbows.

*Paris - because she likes backups*

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Only on one PC?

The software was designed, developed, tested, built, and published on that *ONE* computer only? Was it shipped straight from the developer on that same PC? Did the source code get automagically deleted upon compile?

I highly doubt it.

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Bronze badge

Do they want the whole computer?

Or will they accept just the hard disk with the data intact?

If they want the whole computer then this story is just a ruse to recover their kit which they left lying around, unprotected and unsecured.

Mind you, I hope they catch the thieving scumbag - that's a quality photo. And I also hope the hospital have learned their lesson (doubtful, it's the NHS).

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Lessons learnt

And ye'll say,'Laird, laird, we didn'a ken we had tae backup!...and the Laird, in His infinite Maircy will say. 'Ah weel, ye ken the noo!'

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FAIL

Data, once lost, takes on.....

....an even greater value......therefore: [answers on a postcard please]

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FAIL

Sounds about right for Gov dept

At the school where my Missus works, the staff regularly take the laptops home for personal use and the hired IT hand who visits once a week spends his time cleaning them.

The hired hand, ah yes! This knowledgeable individual who advised my missus that you only need "a padlock" on a website just for financial transactions, no other reason to need "a padlock". This was after my missus complained about a school, internet facing website with kids names, addresses and daily movements on it, had no SSL set up on it when people logged in!

Face it, Gov and IT should never be allowed to mix!

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FAIL

ICT at Leeds Hospitals

Given the state of ICT at Leeds Hospitals I'm not one bit surprised. Last time I was there at least two PC's in the A&E dept. were offline (nice to know they need to scrabble around to find your details on an available PC when you are in the 'Emergency' dept. isn't it), another dozen or so had their cooling fans running balls out due to the huge collection of dust and crap over the vent hole (can only imagine what the CPU heat sink & fan looked like). But what really shocked me was the rate at which staff logged in to PC's, looked at some data then walked out of the room without securing the PC. Don't think you'd need Tom Cruise dangling from the ceiling to get the data out of that network…

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NHS departments..

The problem with NHS departments is that they still see IT as 'wave a magic wand and it happens'.

They don't see backups (they're not tangible things that you can observe moving) so they make assumptions. Data in a hospital is safe by fiat. They don't need to tell IT, as IT are both these unimportant geeks who don't need to be considered, yet also these all powerful gods that will second guess everything and make sure things magically reappear.

Sometimes they'll buy in systems from vendors without telling anyone, plug in servers in their office rooms, and then call IT when several years worth of data has just gone poof with disks.. And wonder why it can't be recovered by IT (who know nothing of it, never having been told).

If it was a VB app (and those are scarily prevalent in the NHS), there's no guarantee of IT awareness as it's so easy to point and click your way through an app with no real knowledge of computing or best practice in general.

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FAIL

NHS...

My other (better?) half works for the NHS.

She's been waiting for over three months for IT to create a shared folder to store their research data...

Whilst they're waiting, they've been told to store it all on a USB stick.

Muppets...

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Flame

Nice photo

Which means we know where the money was spent, on CCTV cameras able to record images that can be used to identify individual people, rather than just human shaped blurrs.

Sure they can find some money from the expense accounts of the 15 layers of middle management in the NHS to pay for a backup device.

Or in my local hospital, perhaps they could reduce the number of nurses to pay for backups. They tend to spend all day huddled chatting around the desks happily ignoring the patients who have to wait for the one nurse who actually nurses to get around to them.

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FAIL

How new ?

If it's "new", how has it managed to acquire software and data in such a short time which isn't held anywhere else ?

Is it not "new" enough to have a CD/DVD writer, a network interface or USB sockets to plug a USB stick or external HDD into ? Couldn't someone have picked up a USB stick while buying sarnies at the local Tesco ? How were they planning to get the valuable data to anyone else; come to that, how did they install anything in the first place ?

Seems like "new" is simply excuse making, which compounds their inexcusable cock-up.

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Unhappy

I could see this happening

I'm a Storage Admin who is in charge of the SAN's and all of the backups for 6 hospitals and 40 clinics and I could tell you exactly why this occurs. IT never knows about the project until afterwards when someone brings it up and ask me can you back this up. Now for big apps like a EMR or PACs, all of IT is involved so of course there will be backups ready to go before the servers are even up. But those pesky small apps from vendors are the issue. These smalls apps have sales folks that talk to the Doctors and staff who don't have any real IT experience and before you know it the hospitals/clinics have purchased it before getting IT involved.

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Anonymous Coward

i've heard horror stories

about some of the IT setup in a local hospital. The first thought i had when i heard the behaviour, was that the staff need some sort of physical token as a username, like an id card that they also need to get through doors, to use any form of IT system.

There seemed to be no sort of accountability for anything, people leaving their accounts logged on for other people to use, passwords on post it notes. random people wandering in and copying files onto USB sticks "because they're a doctor, they must know what they are doing!"

Some of the systems seemed completely baffling, like the lack of any sort of consistent identifier for patients, if you can't get that right, you have no business being open!

it's a shame the NPfIT is such a bag of spanners really, as it's desperately needed to for the IT systems to be looked at! I mean properly looked at too, not just buying a commercial system because their reps gave out the nicest freebies!

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To say that the software only exists...

on that one PC is pure FUD. Whoever developed it will still have a copy, unless he too is monumentally stupid and incompetent

I think it's far more likely that the NHS don't actually know what "software" is and they are in fact referring to the results of the research they were carrying out.

To both:a) not back it up, and, b) leave the computer in such a way that anyone can walk in off the street and take it, and still expect their data to be safe is powerfully stupid.

Thanks to their lack of foresight, what was £600 worth of stolen hardware will now cost the tax payer £1000s worth of manpower as well.

Will they back up their research next time? Probably not. Lightning doesn't strike twice after all.

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FAIL

No one saw?

He was wearing a high visibility jacket and hard hat, and wheeled it out on a red trolly. He should have stuck out like a sore thumb.

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RW

What's wrong here?

Let me guess:

1. incompetent IT drones - the competent ones won't work for the pittance the jobs pay.

2. incompetent pointy-haired bosses - see any Dilbert cartoon for details

3. managers who hold their jobs by virtue of filling some inane diversity quota

I begin to think that a good rule for organizations to follow is that a manager's salary is never greater than the 75th percentile of his non-managerial underlings' salaries. IOW, one out of four employees has a salary greater than his/her manager. This will keep managers chaste and humble, one hopes. [Excuse me: I wax sarcastic.]

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Stop

Can we have some sympathy please...

...frankly, when you're working in a fast paced research environment like that, the analysis you're carrying out takes priority - when you're in til 10pm each and every night you tend to forget about the backups you haven't done due to sheer exhaustion. Yes, they probably should've carried some out. No, they didn't.

Do people just come on here to vilify since, due to their own perfection and the perfection of their working procedures, they have nothing to sort out themselves?

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re: Sarah Baucom

Wear a hard hat/uniform/boiler suit/tie, look like you're meant to be there, and have the balls to pull it off, and you'd be surprised what you can get away with...

At a previous job, a guy wearing a name badge and a hi-vis walked in, spent 15 mins unbolting a projector from a ceiling, and walked out with it. It's not a case of no-one seeing him, but he was so relaxed and confident several staff members and the buildings team just assumed he was supposed to be there.....

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Anonymous Coward

I wouldn't blame the IT dept....

...because I doubt they knew anything about it until some whining user rung up and said "my computer's been nicked, can you magically reproduce everything I had on it?"

Hence my policy. Lock the workstations down. No-one outside IT has an account with admin privs. That way the buggers can't install owt I don't know about.

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Happy

@ no one saw?

Oh Sarah, you underestimate the power of the high viz jacket! Wearing one of these I have been able to gain access to many, many places I probably shouldnt have been. OK to walk in to a hospital, disconnect the kit and stroll out in such a, well, lets face it, highly visible way takes balls of steel but you would be suprised just how few people ever question a man in a high viz jacket.

Like I got taught in the Army, if you want to stroll around all day doing nothing, carry a clip board. People ALWAYS think you are busy doing something :-)

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Vital cancer research?

There's a lot of cancer research going on. No doubt the researchers feel that they are doing something important. But, how much of that research is really vital? Likely, equivalent research is being carried out elsewhere?

There is a lot of cancer research going on but very few real breakthroughs. We don't know which is vital (or even fruitful) until it has been proven to be useful or not.

This is a percentage game and if you lose some, then so what!

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Paris Hilton

Why Steal from NHS

How can someone steal from the NHS? Crazy!

Paris - Dont Know!

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FAIL

@ Northern Monkey

I could be way out of line here, but if you're working every hour god sends, working so hard you are shattered would it not make sense to think "Hey, wait a minute, I'd better make some kind of record here so if some little shit nicks or sets fire to the computer I wont loose all this hard work i've just done"

Common Sense...so damn rare it should be a super power ;)

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