IT Pro is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more
In-depth

Top 10 most embarrassing data breaches

Inspired by a notable security gaffe at BP, we give our rundown of the most embarrassing data breaches in recent memory.

Every data breach brings the risk of embarrassing not only the company involved but also those whose information is compromised.

All too often we see breaches where truly sensitive data, such as medical information, is leaked, harming the organisation's reputation and infringing people's privacy simultaneously.

As a case in point, this week BP was guilty of losing a laptop containing personal data on around 13,000 claimants from the disastrous Deepwater Horizon oil spill of 2010.

Given the furore surrounding the oil spill, that particular loss was made all the more embarrassing for the firm.

Inspired by such epic gaffes, we've drawn together the 10 most mortifying breaches in recent memory.

10. First ICO fines

There have been far worse breaches than those that occurred at Hertfordshire County Council and employment services company A4e last year.

The reason why these two have been included in the list (making it a top 11 really) is that they were the first to be punished with an Information Commisioner's Office fine.

The anticipation in the lead up to the ICO's first monetary punishments meant whoever was forced to pay up would be left blushing.

Admittedly, their errors were fairly shaming in themselves. The council was reprimanded for two serious incidents when employees faxed highly sensitive personal information to the wrong recipients.

A4e had an unencrypted laptop stolen, which contained personal data on 24,000 people who had used community legal advice centres in Hull and Leicester.

If and when the ICO hands out the maximum 500,000 fine, the guilty organisation can expect to be even more shamefaced.

Featured Resources

Four strategies for building a hybrid workplace that works

All indications are that the future of work is hybrid, if it's not here already

Free webinar

The digital marketer’s guide to contextual insights and trends

How to use contextual intelligence to uncover new insights and inform strategies

Free Download

Ransomware and Microsoft 365 for business

What you need to know about reducing ransomware risk

Free Download

Building a modern strategy for analytics and machine learning success

Turning into business value

Free Download

Recommended

Anonymous hijacks Russian broadcasts with footage of Ukraine war
hacking

Anonymous hijacks Russian broadcasts with footage of Ukraine war

7 Mar 2022

Most Popular

Windows Server admins say latest Patch Tuesday broke authentication policies
Server & storage

Windows Server admins say latest Patch Tuesday broke authentication policies

12 May 2022
Russian hackers declare war on 10 countries after failed Eurovision DDoS attack
hacking

Russian hackers declare war on 10 countries after failed Eurovision DDoS attack

16 May 2022
IT admin deletes company’s databases and is jailed for seven years
Policy & legislation

IT admin deletes company’s databases and is jailed for seven years

16 May 2022