British businesses and the public sector are being urged to make data protection one of their key concerns following the release of details of security breaches.

The Information Commissioner, Richard Thomas, has urged British businesses and the public sector to make data protection a key concern, after revealing that he received reports of 94 security breaches during 2007.

Of most concern is that the government or other public sector bodies committed two-thirds of the breaches, which concerned the personal details – such as health records - of UK citizens. The data was recovered in just three of the 94 cases.

The Commissioner also highlighted that around 90 percent of the businesses surveyed let staff leave offices with potentially confidential data stored on USB sticks.

"The evidence shows that more must be done to eradicate inexcusable security breaches," Thomas explained.

"The government, banks and other organisations need to regain the public's trust by being far more careful with people's personal information. Once again I urge business and public sector leaders to make data protection a priority in their organisation," he added.

The Commissioner's findings coincide with the release of the Information Security Breaches Survey, which was conducted by Price Waterhouse Coopers on behalf of the Department for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform.

The survey identified that 78 percent of those surveyed reported having a laptop stolen where the data on hard drive was not encrypted while 13 percent had detected unauthorised outsiders within their network.

Andrew Beard, director of PricewaterhouseCoopers, said: "It's easy for companies to become complacent but they must consider their duty to protect users in the long term."

See also: HSBC loses 370,000 customers' details