Lessons to learn from a year of data breaches

In the year since the HMRC data breach, many more have been made public – here’s a roundup of 11 lessons (we should have) learned.

Merchant Securities Group was fined 77,000 even though it didn't even have a security breach, but simply because its methods risked enabling one.

At the time, Margaret Cole, the director of enforcement at the FSA, said: "It is unacceptable that despite increased awareness of data security issues, a firm should be so careless about its systems for protecting customers' personal details. People have a right to expect their details to be kept secure and firms should be committed to treating their customers fairly in all aspects of their business." Right on, Margaret. Right on.

Advertisement - Article continues below

Lesson 11: The ICO needs more powerOf the 277 data breaches the ICO has investigated over the past year, it's taking action against 30 organisations. That's not a lot.

The actions it can take generally consist of sending an angry letter demanding changes to processes, to ensure the guilty body learns to comply with the Data Protection Act. For the most part, this means deleting unnecessary data and encrypting portable media devices which is what the watchdog made Virgin Media do in the wake of a lost disc.

Under the threat of prosecution, most organisations seem to just buy some encryption software and get on with business. Not really much of a deterrent, is it?

Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below

Members of the government and the information commissioner himself have all called for stronger powers. Thomas said last year that his limited powers were a "very bizarre situation, unlike virtually all the other data protection authorities around the world and most other regulatory bodies, such as the Financial Services Authority."

Indeed, until the watchdog gains the power to fine like the FSA or data breaches become criminalised, it's going to continue to be little more than a source of good advice often ignored and some nasty letters now and then.

Featured Resources

Staying ahead of the game in the world of data

Create successful marketing campaigns by understanding your customers better

Download now

Remote working 2020: Advantages and challenges

Discover how to overcome remote working challenges

Download now

Keep your data available with snapshot technology

Synology’s solution to your data protection problem

Download now

After the lockdown - reinventing the way your business works

Your guide to ensuring business continuity, no matter the crisis

Download now
Advertisement

Most Popular

How to find RAM speed, size and type
Laptops

How to find RAM speed, size and type

3 Aug 2020
How to use Chromecast without Wi-Fi
Mobile

How to use Chromecast without Wi-Fi

4 Aug 2020
How do I fix the Windows 10 Start Menu if it's frozen?
operating systems

How do I fix the Windows 10 Start Menu if it's frozen?

3 Aug 2020