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Brian Pennington

A blog about Cyber Security & Compliance

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Data breach

21 Significant 21st Century Data Breaches – Infographic

OptimumSecurity has created an infographic that is a great representation of many significant data breaches.

21 Biggest Breaches

100 Percent of Retailers Disclose Cyber Risks

According to BDO’s analysis of risk factors listed in the most recent 10-K filings of the 100 largest U.S. retailers, risk associated with a possible security breach was cited unanimously by retailers, claiming the top spot, up from the 18th spot in 2007.

Since major retail security breaches began making national headlines in 2013, retailers have become acutely aware of the growing cyber threat and cyber-related risks. Between new point-of-sale systems and evolving digital channels, the industry faces unique vulnerabilities: Retailers are responsible for safeguarding consumer data as well as their own, in addition to protecting against potential gaps in security related to third-party suppliers and vendors.

2016 marks the 10th anniversary of our retail risk factor analysis, and throughout the decade, we’ve seen the retail landscape undergo a dramatic evolution in response to the recession, new and maturing e-commerce channels and evolving consumer preferences,” said Doug Hart, partner in BDO’s Consumer Business practice. “Retailers over the years have proven to be in tune with the industry-wide issues and trends that could pose risks to their businesses, and they are clearly not tone deaf when it comes to reacting to the urgency of cybersecurity

The following chart ranks the top 25 risk factors cited by the 100 largest U.S. retailers:

Top 20 Risks for Retailers 2016 2015 2014
General Economic Conditions #1 100% #1 100% #1 100%
Privacy Concerns Related to Security Breach #1t 100% #4t 99% #8 91%
Competition and Consolidation in Retail Sector #3 98% #1t 100% #3 98%
Federal, State and/or Local Regulations #4 96% #1t 100% #2 99%
Natural Disasters, Terrorism and Geo-Political Events #5 94% #7 96% #13 87%
Implementation and Maintenance of IT Systems #6 93% #4 99% #7 92%
U.S. and Foreign Supplier/Vendor Concerns #6t 93% #6 98% #4 96%
Legal Proceedings #6t 93% #9t 95% #8t 91%
Labor (health coverage, union concerns, staffing) #9 91% #7t 96% #5 94%
Impediments to Further U.S. Expansion and Growth #10 90% #12t 92% #17 78%
Dependency on Consumer Trends #11 88% #9 95% #6 93%
Consumer Confidence and Spending #12 87% #15 89% #8t 91%
Credit Markets/Availability of Financing and Company Indebtedness #13 85% #11 94% #11 89%
Failure to Properly Execute Business Strategy #14 82% #12 92% #11t 89%
Changes to Accounting Standards and Regulations #15 76% #14 90% #13t 87%
International Operations #16 73% #17 86% #15 80%
Loss of Key Management/New Management #16t 73% #19 80% #16 79%
Marketing, Advertising, Promotions and Public Relations #18 66% #25 68% #24 64%
Consumer Credit and/or Debt Levels #19 62% #27 65% #23 65%
Joint Ventures #20 61% #21 76% #18 74%

Additional findings from the 2016 BDO Retail Risk Factor Report:

Cyber Risks Include Compliance Measures

As the cyber threat looms larger, retailers are bracing for new and emerging cybersecurity and data privacy legislation. Risks associated with cyber and privacy regulations were cited by 76 percent of retailers this year. This is in line with the findings from the 2016 BDO Retail Compass Survey of CFOs, in which nearly 7 in 10 retail CFOs said they expected cyber regulation to grow in 2016. These concerns have been highlighted by President Obama’s recently unveiled Commission on Enhancing National Cybersecurity and continued debate in Congress over information sharing between the government and private industry.

Retailers have not escaped regulatory scrutiny. The industry is also subject to Europay, Mastercard and Visa (EMV) standards that bolster credit card authentication and authorization. Industry analysts estimate that just 40 percent of retailers are compliant with EMV standards despite the Oct. 1, 2015 deadline.

“Mandating EMV chip-compliant payment systems is an important first step in shoring up the industry’s cyber defenses, but it’s just the tip of the iceberg,” said Shahryar Shaghaghi, National Leader of the Technology Advisory Services practice group and Head of International BDO Cybersecurity. “Online and mobile transactions remain vulnerable to credit card fraud and identity theft, and POS systems can still be hacked and provide an access point to retailers’ networks. New forms of malware can also compromise retailers’ IT infrastructure and disrupt business operations. Every retailer will experience a data breach at some juncture; the real question is what mechanisms have been put in place to mitigate the impact.”

E-Commerce Ubiquity Drives Brick & Mortar Concerns

Impediments to e-commerce initiatives also increased in ranking, noted by 57 percent of retailers in 2016, a significant contrast from 12 percent in 2007. In 2015, e-commerce accounted for 7.3 percent of total retail sales and is continuing to gain market share.

As e-commerce grows and businesses strive to meet consumers’ demand for seamless online and mobile experiences, retailers are feeling the effects in their physical locations. The recent wave of Chapter 11 bankruptcies and mass store closings among high-visibility retailers has raised concerns across the industry. Ninety percent of retailers are worried about impediments to growth and U.S. expansion this year. Meanwhile, risks associated with owning and leasing real estate jumped 14 percentage points to 54 percent this year.

Heightened worries over the impact of e-commerce on physical locations are far reaching, driving concerns over market competition for prime real estate and mall traffic to rise 19 percentage points to 46 percent. Meanwhile, consumer demand for fast shipping fueled an uptick in risks around the increased cost of mail, paper and printing, rising 10 percentage points from seven percent in 2015 to 17 percent this year.

General Economic Conditions Hold Weight

General economic risks have been consistently top of mind for retailers throughout all ten years of this survey. Even at its lowest percentage in 2008, this risk was still the second most cited, noted by 83 percent of companies.

Despite the fact that since 2013, general economic conditions have remained tied for the top risk, concerns about specific market indicators have receded.

For more information on the 2016 BDO Retail RiskFactor Report, view the full report here.

About the Consumer Business Practice at BDO USA, LLP

BDO has been a valued business advisor to consumer business companies for over 100 years. The firm works with a wide variety of retail and consumer business clients, ranging from multinational Fortune 500 corporations to more entrepreneurial businesses, on myriad accounting, tax and other financial issues.

DataMotion_IG4_BriefHistoryofHCDataBreaches_092915

Payment Card Industry issues new guidance to help organizations respond to data breaches

For any organization connected to the internet, it is not a question of if but when their business will be under attack, according to a recent cybersecurity report from Symantec, which found Canada ranked No. 4 worldwide in terms of ransomware and social media attacks last year. These increasing attacks put customer information, and especially payment data at risk for compromise.

When breaches do occur, response time continues to be a challenge. In more than one quarter of all breaches investigated worldwide in 2014 by Verizon, it took victim organization weeks, or even months, to contain the breaches. It is against this backdrop that global cybersecurity, payment technology and data forensics experts are gathering in Vancouver for the annual PCI North America Community Meeting to address the ongoing challenge of protecting consumer payment information from criminals, and new best practices on how organizations can best prepare for responding to a data breach. 

A data breach now costs organizations an average total of $3.8 million. However, research shows that having an incident response team in place can create significant savings. Developed in collaboration with the Payment Card Industry (PCI) Forensic Investigators (PFI) community, Responding to a Data Breach: A How-to Guide for Incident Management provides merchants and service providers with key recommendations for being prepared to react quickly if a breach is suspected, and specifically what to do contain damage, and facilitate an effective investigation. 

The silver lining to high profile breaches that have occurred is that there is a new sense of urgency that is translating into security vigilance from the top down, forcing businesses to prioritize and make data security business-as-usual,” said PCI SSC General Manager Stephen W. Orfei. “Prevention, detection and response are always going to be the three legs of data protection. Better detection will certainly improve response time and the ability to mitigate attacks, but managing the impact and damage of compromise comes down to preparation, having a plan in place and the right investments in technology, training and partnerships to support it

This guidance is especially important given that in over 95% of breaches it is an external party that informs the compromised organization of the breach,” added PCI SSC International Director Jeremy King. “Knowing what to do, who to contact and how to manage the early stages of the breach is critical

At its annual North America Community Meeting in Vancouver this week, the PCI Security Standards Council will discuss these best practices in the context of today’s threat and breach landscape, along with other standards and resources the industry is developing to help businesses protect their customer payment data. Keynote speaker cybersecurity blogger Brian Krebs will provide insights into the latest attacks and breaches, while PCI Forensic Investigators and authors of the Verizon Data Breach Investigation Report and PCI Compliance Report, will present key findings from their work with breached entities globally. Canadian organizations including City of Calgary, Interac and Rogers will share regional perspectives on implementing payment security technologies and best practices. 

Download a copy of Responding to a Data Breach: A How-to Guide for Incident Management here 

The original PCI SSC press release can be found here.

Cyber insurance: trying to quantify risks

Bloomberg Intelligence August 24, 2015

This analysis is by Bloomberg Intelligence analysts Charles Graham and Edmond Christou.  It originally appeared on the Bloomberg Professional Service.

Personal data theft, cyber-attacks whet appetite for insurers

The value of personal data stored on corporate databases is rapidly increasing. For EU citizens it is set to reach 1 trillion euros ($1.4 trillion) by 2020, according to Boston Consulting Group. This is raising the need for greater protection. The increased incidence of data breaches and misuses as hackers become more sophisticated has also imposed greater regulatory requirements on businesses. Companies are seeking new products from insurers to limit the cost of interruption, reputational damage and penalties.

Companies Impacted: While cyber risk potentially affects many classes of business, there are a number of providers including AIG, Allianz, Munich Re, Swiss Re and Zurich Insurance Group, as well as specialist insurers like Beazley and Hiscox, which have developed specific cyber products.

Photographer: Craig Warga/Bloomberg

Insurers view industry as ill-prepared for risk of cyber theft

Cyber theft is top of the list of risks for which businesses are least prepared, according to Allianz’s 2015 Risk Barometer Survey. Companies need to understand the potential effect of a cyber-attack on their supply chain, the liability they could face if they can’t deliver products on time and the legal penalties if they lose customer data. While computer systems can be improved, it is impossible to make them entirely secure. This is creating opportunities for insurers.

Companies Impacted: Allianz’s 4th Risk Barometer Survey was conducted among global businesses and risk consultants, underwriters, senior managers and claims experts within Allianz in October and November 2014. Insurers offering cyber-risk cover include AIG, Allianz, Zurich, Beazley and Hiscox.

Swelling cyber-attack costs are driving wider insurance coverage

The average cost of a data breach has increased to $3.79 million, according to a study by the Ponemon Institute based on a survey of 350 companies in 11 countries. This cost has increased by 23% since 2013. The average cost for each lost or stolen record containing sensitive information rose to $154 this year from $145 in 2014. Concerns about data breaches and privacy have led to legal reforms in the U.S. and Europe, which may help drive demand for cyber-insurance.

Companies Impacted: Increasing cyber-attacks have driven insurers such as AIG, Allianz, Beazley, Hiscox and Zurich Insurance, to expand their product offerings to include first- and third-party coverage for cyber-risk.

Retailers face biggest threat from cyber theft, data breaches

Retailers face the biggest threat from data breaches, according to figures compiled by Zurich Insurance. The food and beverage industry is second in line for hackers followed by hospitality, finance and professional services. Carphone Warehouse discovered on Aug. 5 that personal data of 2.4 million of its customers and encrypted credit card details for 90,000 clients may have been accessed in a data breach. Insurers are tailoring products to meet different industries cyber risks.

Companies Impacted: Insurers work with companies to identify best practices in data privacy and security to help to minimize the financial cost should a breach occur. AIG, Allianz, Beazley, Hiscox, Zurich Insurance are among the companies to have developed cyber-insurance coverage.

Die hard 4.0 cyber scenario could cost more than $1 trillion

A cyber-attack on the U.S. power grid could cost $243 billion rising to more than $1 trillion in the most extreme scenario, according to a study by Lloyd’s of London and the University of Cambridge. The report examines the insurance implications of a major cyber-attack. It depicts a scenario where hackers shut parts of the grid, plunging 15 U.S. states and Washington DC into darkness, leaving 93 million people without power. Insurers are just starting to wake up to the scale of potential losses.

Companies Impacted: Cyber-insurance risks are widely underwritten at Lloyd’s with 47 managing agents offering cover, including quoted groups Beazley, Hiscox and Novae. Lloyd’s introduced new risk codes for data and privacy breaches and cyber-related property damage in 2015.

Swiss re joins forces with IBM to fight cyber threat

Munich Re has partnered with Hewlett-Packard and Swiss Re with IBM to develop solutions that offer clients cyber protection and provide support in the event of a security breach. IBM will assess clients’ external and internal vulnerability to cyber-attacks and offer options for mitigating these risks. IBM’s security platform provides intelligence to help organizations protect their clients’ data, applications and infrastructure.

Peer Comparison: Swiss Re’s Corporate Solutions business is one of a number of insurers offering cyber coverage. Other companies include AIG, Allianz and Zurich Insurance.

Tor detections jump by more than 1,000%

Vectra Networks announced the results of the second edition of its “Post-Intrusion Report”, a real-world study about threats that evade perimeter defenses and what attackers do once they get inside your network.

Report data was collected over six-months from 40 customer and prospect networks with more than 250,000 hosts, and is compared to results in last year’s report. The new report includes detections of all phases of a cyber attack and exposes trends in malware behavior, attacker communication techniques, internal reconnaissance, lateral movement, and data exfiltration.

According to the report, there was non-linear growth in lateral movement (580%) and reconnaissance (270%) detections that outpaced the 97% increase in overall detections compared to last year. These behaviors are significant as they show signs of targeted attacks that have penetrated the security perimeter.

While command-and-control communication showed the least amount of growth (6%), high-risk Tor and external remote access detections grew significantly. In the new report, Tor detections jumped by more than 1,000% compared to last year and accounted for 14% of all command-and-control traffic, while external remote access shot up by 183% over last year.

The report is the first to study hidden tunnels without decrypting SSL traffic by applying data science to network traffic.

A comparison of hidden tunnels in encrypted traffic vs. clear traffic shows that HTTPS is favored over HTTP for hidden tunnels, indicating an attacker’s preference for encryption to hide their communications.

The increase in lateral movement and reconnaissance detections shows that attempts at pulling off targeted attacks continue to be on the rise,” said Oliver Tavakoli, Vectra Networks CTO. “The attackers’ batting average hasn’t changed much, but more at-bats invariably has translated into more hits

Key findings of the study include:

  • Botnet monetization behavior grew linearly compared to last year’s report. Ad click-fraud was the most commonly observed botnet monetization behavior, representing 85% of all botnet detections.
  • Within the category of lateral movement detections, brute-force attacks accounted for 56%, automated replication accounted for 22% and Kerberos-based attacks accounted for 16%. Although only the third most frequent detection, Kerberos-based attacks grew non-linearly by 400% compared to last year.
  • Of internal reconnaissance detections, port scans represented 53% while darknet scans represented 47%, which is fairly consistent with behavior detected last year.
  • Lateral-movement detections, which track the internal spread of malware and authentication-based attacks such as the use of stolen passwords, led the pack with over 34% of total detections.
  • Command and control detections, which identify a wide range of malicious communication techniques, were close behind with 32% of detections.
  • Botnet monetization detections track the various ways criminals make money from ad click-fraud, spamming behavior, and distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks. These botnet-related behaviors accounted for 18% of all detections.
  • The reconnaissance category looks for internal reconnaissance performed by an attacker already inside the network and represented 13% of detections.
  • Exfiltration detections look for the actual theft of data. The good news here is that it was by far the least common category of detection at 3%.

The data in the Post-Intrusion Report is based on metadata from Vectra customers and prospects who opted to share detection metrics from their production networks. Vectra identifies active threats by monitoring network traffic on the wire in these environments. Internal host-to-host traffic and traffic to and from the Internet are monitored to ensure visibility and context of all phases of an attack.

The latest report offers a first-hand analysis of active “in situ” network threats that bypass next-generation firewalls, intrusion prevention systems, malware sandboxes, host-based security solutions, and other enterprise defenses. The study includes data from 40 organizations in education, energy, engineering, financial services, government, healthcare, legal, media, retail, services, and technology.

The full report can be found here

Survey Shows Lack of Trust, Limited Visibility and Knowledge Gap between the Board and IT Security Professionals

There are significant gaps in cybersecurity knowledge, shared visibility and mutual trust between those who serve on organizations’ board of directors and IT security professionals. These gaps between those responsible for corporate and cyber governance and those responsible for the day-to-day defense against threats could have damaging impacts on organizations’ cybersecurity posture, leaving them more vulnerable to attack and breaches.

This data comes from a new survey, Defining the Gap: The Cybersecurity Governance Survey, conducted by the Ponemon Institute and commissioned by Fidelis Cybersecurity.

Cybersecurity is a critical issue for boards, but many members lack the necessary knowledge to properly address the challenges and are even unaware when breaches occur. Further widening the gap, IT security professionals lack confidence in the board’s understanding of the cyber risks their organizations face, leading to a breakdown of trust and communication between the two groups.

The survey asked more than 650 board members and IT security professionals (mainly CIOs, CTOs and CISOs) for their perspectives regarding board member knowledge and involvement in cybersecurity governance.

Key findings include:

Lack of Critical Cybersecurity Knowledge at the Top

76% of boards review or approve security strategy and incident response plans, but 41% of board members admitted they lacked expertise in cybersecurity. An additional 26% said they had minimal or no knowledge of cybersecurity, making it difficult, if not impossible, for them to understand whether the practices being discussed adequately address the unique risks faced by their organization. This renders their review of strategy and plans largely ineffective.

Limited Visibility into Breach Activity

59% of board members believe their organizations’ cybersecurity governance practices are very effective, while only 18% of IT security professionals believe the same. This large gap is likely the result of the board’s lack of information about threat activity. Although cybersecurity governance is on 65% of boards’ agendas, most members are remarkably unaware if their organizations had been breached in the recent past. Specifically, 54% of IT security professionals reported a breach involving the theft of high-value information such as intellectual property within the last two years, but only 23% of board members reported the same, with 18% unsure if their organizations were breached at all.

As the breadth and severity of breaches continues to escalate, cybersecurity has increasingly become a board level issue,” said Dr. Larry Ponemon, chairman and founder of the Ponemon Institute. “The data shows that board members are very aware of cybersecurity, but there is still a lot of uncertainty and confusion. Many lack knowledge not only about security issues and risks, but even about what has transpired within their own companies, which is shocking to me. Without an understanding of the issues, it’s impossible to reasonably evaluate if strategies and response plans are effectively addressing the problem

Absence of Trust Between Boards and IT Security Professionals

The board’s lack of knowledge has created a further divide. Nearly 60% of IT security professionals believe that the board does not understand the cybersecurity risks of the organization, compared to 70% of board members who believe that they do understand the risks.

The gap in knowledge and limited visibility into breach activity means board members don’t have the information they need to make smart cybersecurity governance decisions, and IT security professionals don’t have the support, monetary or otherwise, to maintain a strong security posture,” said retired Brig. Gen. Jim Jaeger, chief cyber services strategist at Fidelis. “Board members don’t need to be cyber experts, but they should have a thorough knowledge of the risks their organization faces and be able to provide the support needed for the security teams to protect against those risks

Additional Key Findings Include:

  • Target breach was a watershed moment. 65% of board members and 67% of IT security professionals reported that the Target data breach had a significant impact on the board’s involvement in cybersecurity governance, while previous high profile breaches were reported to have nominal or no impact.
  • The SEC will drive drastically increased board involvement. The Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) Guidelines requiring the disclosure of material security information had a significant impact in boards’ involvement, according to 46% of board members and 44% of IT security professionals. However, only 5% of board members and 2% of IT security professionals say they followed the SEC guidelines and disclosed a material security breach to shareholders. Moving forward, 72% of board members believe the SEC will make the guidelines a mandate, and 81% believe that this will increase the board’s involvement in cybersecurity governance.

How Cyber Security Literate is the board?

Tripwire have announced the results of a study on the cyber literacy challenges faced by organisations.

The study evaluated the attitudes of executives as they relate to cybersecurity risk decision-making and communication between IT security professionals, executive teams and boards. Study respondents included 101 C-level executives and directors as well as 176 IT professionals from both private and public U.K. organisations.

Despite the increasing number of successful cyberattacks against U.K. organisations, the study revealed that 54% of C-level executives at organisations within the Financial Times Stock Exchange (FTSE) 100 index believe their board is both cybersecurity literate and actively engaged in routine security. IT professionals from the same organisations are less confident in their boards cybersecurity knowledge, with 26% stating their boards only steps in when there is a serious incident.

While the results of the study point to executive confidence, they reveal the uncertainty of IT professionals. When asked if their board was “cyber literate,”29% of IT professionals either answered “no” or “not sure.” However, when C-level executives were asked the same question, 84% answered “yes.”.

There’s a big difference between cybersecurity awareness and cybersecurity literacy,” said Dwayne Melancon, chief technology officer for Tripwire. “If the vast majority of executives and boards were really literate about cybersecurity risks, then spear phishing wouldn’t work. I think these results are indicative of the growing awareness that the risks connected with cybersecurity are business critical, but it would appear the executives either don’t understand how much they have to learn about cybersecurity, or they don’t want to admit that they that they don’t fully understand the business impact of these risks

Other key findings include:

  • 28% of IT professionals “don’t have visibility” into what the board is told about cybersecurity
  • 47% were “not concerned” about their boards knowledge of cybersecurity.
  • In the event of a cyberattack, respondents would be most concerned about 62% customer data, 50% damage to brand and reputation and 40% financial damage or stock price.
  • 35% of respondents agreed that a security breach at their own organization had the biggest impact on their boards’ cybersecurity awareness, while other respondents felt that Heartbleed (19%) had a bigger impact than the Target or Sony breach and the Snowden leaks (17% and 8%, respectively).

Most organisations are not struggling with communication tools said Melancon. They are instead struggling with finding the right vocabulary and information to accurately portray cybersecurity risk to their boards, and they are trying to find the right balance of responsibility and oversight for this critical business risk

Who breached the Data Protection Act in 2014? Find the complete list here.

2014 was another busy year for the Information Commissioners Office with yet more breaches of the Data Protection Act.

There are normally three types of punishments administered by the ICO

  1. Monetary. The most serious of the actions and one normally reserved for organisational entities.
  2. Undertaking. Typically applied when an organisation has failed to adhere to good business practise and needs the helping guidance of the ICO
  3. Prosecutions. Normally reserved for individuals who have blatantly breached the Act.
  4. Enforcements. A requirement on an organisation or individual to desist from specific activities.

Below is a summary of the ICO’s activity in 2014 across all three “punishment” areas.

Monetary penalty notices

A monetary penalty will only be served in the most serious situations. When deciding the size of a monetary penalty, the ICO takes into account the seriousness of the breach and other factors like the size, financial and other resources of an organisation’s data controller. The ICO can impose a penalty of up to £500,000. It is worth noting that monetary penalties are to HM Treasury.

  • 22 August 2014 a monetary penalty of £90,000 was issued to Kwik Fix Plumbers Ltd for continually making nuisance calls targeting vulnerable victims. In several cases, the calls resulted in elderly people being tricked into paying for boiler insurance they didn’t need.
  • 5 December 2014 a monetary penalty of £70,000 was issued to Manchester Ltd after sending unsolicited text messages and appeared on the recipients’ mobile phone to have been sent by “Mum”.
  • 05 November 2014 a monetary penalty of £7,500 was issued to Worldview Limited following a serious data breach where a vulnerability on the company’s site allowed attackers to access the full payment card details of 3,814 customers
  • 01 October 2014 a monetary penalty of £70,000 was issued to fine to EMC Advisory Services Limited for making hundreds of nuisance calls. The company was responsible for 630 complaints to the ICO and the TPS between 1 March 2013 and 28 February 2014. They failed to make sure that those registered with the TPS, or who’d previously asked not to be contacted, weren’t being called.
  • 26 August 2014 a monetary penalty of £180,000 to the Ministry of Justice over serious failings in the way prisons in England and Wales have been handling people’s information
  • 28 July 2014 a monetary penalty of £50,000 fine to Reactiv Media Limited after an investigation discovered they had made unsolicited calls to hundreds of people who had registered with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS).
  • 23 July 2014 a monetary penalty of £150,000 to Think W3 Limited after a serious breach of the Data Protection Act revealed thousands of people’s details to a malicious hacker.
  • 03 April 2014 a monetary penalty of £50,000 Amber UPVC Fabrications Ltd (T/A Amber Windows) after an investigation discovered they had made unsolicited marketing calls to people who had registered with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS).
  • 19 March 2014 a monetary penalty of £100,000 to Kent Police after highly sensitive and confidential information, including copies of police interview tapes, were left in a basement at the former site of a police station.
  • 07 March 2014 a monetary penalty of £200,000 to the British Pregnancy Advice Service. Hacker threatened to publish thousands of names of people who sought advice on abortion, pregnancy and contraception.
  • 11 January 2014 a monetary penalty of £185,000 to Department of Justice Northern Ireland after a filing cabinet containing details of a terrorist incident was sold at auction.

ICO statement on Monetary Penalties

Undertakings

Undertakings are formal agreements between an organisation and the ICO to undertake certain actions to avoid future breaches of the Data Protection Act, typically this involves, Encryption, Training and Management Procedures.

  • 19 December 2014 Treasury Solicitors Department. A follow up has been completed to provide an assurance that the Treasury Solicitors Department has appropriately addressed the actions agreed in its undertaking signed February 2014.
  • 19 December 2014 Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council. A follow up has been completed to provide an assurance that Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council has appropriately addressed the actions agreed in its undertaking signed April 2014.
  • 19 December 2014 Caerphilly County Borough Council. A council that ordered covert surveillance on a sick employee must review its approach after an Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) investigation. The ICO found the Council breached the Data Protection Act when it ordered the surveillance of an employee suspected of fraudulently claiming to be sick.
  • 15 December 2014 St Helens Metropolitan Borough Council. A follow up has been completed to provide an assurance that St Helens Metropolitan Borough Council has appropriately addressed the actions agreed in its undertaking signed June 2014.
  • 01 December 2014 Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council. A follow up has been completed to provide an assurance that Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council has appropriately addressed the actions agreed in its undertaking signed April 2014.
  • 28 November 2014 Oxfordshire County Council. A follow up has been completed to provide an assurance that Oxfordshire County Council as appropriately addressed the actions agreed in its undertaking signed June 2014.
  • 28 November 2014 Aspers (Milton Keynes) Limited. A follow up has been completed to provide an assurance that Aspers (Milton Keynes) Limited has appropriately addressed the actions agreed in its undertaking signed June 2014.
  • 26 November 2014 Department of Justice Northern Ireland. A follow up has been completed to provide an assurance that the Department of Justice Northern Ireland has appropriately addressed the actions agreed in its undertaking signed May 2014.
  • 17 November 2014 London Borough of Barking and Dagenham. A follow up has been completed to provide an assurance that London borough of Barking and Dagenham has appropriately addressed the actions agreed in its undertaking signed April 2014.
  • 05 November 2014 Student Loans Company. A follow up has been completed to provide an assurance that Student Loans Company has appropriately addressed the actions agreed in its undertaking signed April 2014.
  • 05 November 2014 Royal Veterinary College. A follow up has been completed to provide an assurance that The Royal Veterinary College has appropriately addressed the actions agreed in its undertaking signed October 2013.
  • 24 October 2014 Gwynedd Council. An Undertaking to comply with the seventh data protection principle has been signed by Gwynedd Council following two breaches of the Data Protection Act.
  • 24 October 2014 Disclosure and Barring Service. An undertaking to comply with the first data protection principle has been signed by the Disclosure and Barring Service.
  • 08 October 2014 South Western Ambulance Service NHS Trust. An undertaking to comply with the first, third and seventh data protection principles has been signed by South Western Ambulance Service NHS Trust. This includes the completion of a Privacy Impact Assessment in respect of data sharing. This follows an investigation whereby patient data related to 45, 431 data subjects was shared with a Clinical Commissioning Group (‘CCG’) without a legal basis to do so. There were also security concerns surrounding the manner in which the data was stored on discs when being distributed to the CCG.
  • 08 October 2014 Weathersby Limited. An undertaking to comply with the seventh data protection principle has been signed by Weathersby Limited after the company failed to secure an internal server properly, resulting in personal data relating to clients being made available on the internet.
  • 07 October 2014 Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. An undertaking to comply with the seventh data protection principle has been signed by Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. This follows an investigation into two reported incidents involving disclosures of personal data to third parties in error.
  • 25 September 2014 Norfolk Community Health & Care NHS Trust. An undertaking to comply with the first, third and seventh data protection principle has been signed by Norfolk Community Health & Care NHS Trust. This follows an investigation involving the inadvertent sharing of data with a referral management centre.
  • 22 September 2014 Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust. An undertaking to comply with the seventh data protection principle has been signed by Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust.  This follows an investigation into two separate incidents involving disclosures of personal data.
  • 09 September 2014 Isle of Scilly Council. An undertaking to comply with the seventh data protection principle has been signed by the Council of the Isle of Scilly. This follows an investigation into two separate incidents. The first relating to confidential information which was part of a disciplinary hearing being sent unredacted to third parties.
  • 28 August 2014 Racing Post. An undertaking to comply with the seventh data protection principle has been signed by the Racing Post. This follows an investigation whereby the Racing Post website was subject to an internet based SQL injection attack which gave access to a customer database. The data included customer registration details relating to 677,335 data subjects.
  • 13 August 2014 Wokingham Borough Council. A follow up has been completed to provide an assurance that Wokingham Borough Council has appropriately addressed the actions agreed in its undertaking signed April 2014.
  • 11 August 2014 Thamesview Estate Agents Ltd. An undertaking to comply with the seventh data protection principle has been signed by Thamesview Estate Agents Ltd after the company continued to leave papers containing personal information on the street despite a previous warning. The papers were stored in transparent bags and the information was clearly visible to anyone who walked past.
  • 18 July 2014 The Moray Council. A follow up has been completed to provide an assurance that The Moray Council has appropriately addressed the actions agreed in its undertaking signed May 2014.
  • 09 July 2014 Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board. An undertaking to comply with the seventh data protection principle has been signed by Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board after sensitive information was sent to the wrong address.
  • 27 June 2014 Oxfordshire County Council. An undertaking to comply with the seventh data protection principle has been signed by Oxfordshire County Council. This follows an investigation whereby a solicitor had removed a number of documents from the office but had dropped these in a street near their home. The sensitive personal data related to three child protection cases concerning 22 data subjects.
  • 23 June 2014 Aspers (Milton Keynes) Limited. An undertaking to comply with the seventh data protection principle has been signed by Aspers (Milton Keynes) Limited, following an email which was sent in error to an recipient outside of the organisation.
  • 19 June 2014 Department of Justice Northern Ireland. An undertaking to comply with the seventh data protection principle has been signed by Department of Justice Northern Ireland. This follows the sale of a filing cabinet that contained documents originating from within the Northern Ireland Prison service. The documents contained personal data, as defined by section 1 of the Data Protection Act 1998 (the Act), which was sensitive in nature.
  • 17 June 2014 Aberdeenshire Council. An undertaking to comply with the seventh data protection principle has been signed by Aberdeenshire Council after a paper file was lost by an employee of the Adult Mental Health section of the council’s Social Work service. The employee had placed the file on the roof of his car before driving off.
  • 16 June 2014 Cardiff and Vale University Health Board. A follow up has been completed to provide an assurance that Cardiff and Vale University Health Board has appropriately addressed the actions agreed in its undertaking signed October 2013.
  • 09 June 2014 Worcestershire Health and Care NHS Trust. An undertaking to comply with the seventh data protection principle has been signed by Worcestershire Health and Care NHS Trust. This follows an investigation whereby the local press were handed a patient handover sheet containing details of 18 patients.
  • 02 June 2014 Jephson Homes Housing Association Ltd. An undertaking to comply with the seventh data protection principle has been signed by Jephson Homes Housing Association Ltd. This follows an investigation into the disclosure in error of several documents containing third party personal data when providing documents to an individual as part of a litigation process.
  • 30 May 2014 Panasonic UK. A follow up has been completed to provide an assurance that Panasonic UK has appropriately addressed the actions agreed in its undertaking signed October 2013.
  • 30 May 2014 St Helens Metropolitan Borough Council. An undertaking to comply with the seventh data protection principle has been signed by St Helens Metropolitan Borough Council after child’s foster placement address was disclosed in error.  Investigations identified that Council had selected the correct recipient and had redacted the majority of documents disclosed however the address was missed on one document.
  • 30 May 2014 London Borough of Barking & Dagenham. An undertaking to respond in a quicker and more effective manner to losses of personal data has been signed by London Borough of Barking & Dagenham. This follows an investigation into the loss of a file containing medical data relating to eleven children, which discovered that although the council knew where the file was, it had still not been retrieved five months later.
  • 27 May 2014 Student Loans Company. An undertaking to comply with the seventh data protection principle has been signed by the Student Loans Company Limited following an investigation by the ICO into three separate incidents involving the disclosure of documents to the incorrect recipients.  The investigation identified that whilst checking procedures were in place documents containing sensitive personal data were subject to fewer checks than those containing less sensitive data.
  • 16 May 2014 Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Foundation Trust. A follow up has been completed to provide an assurance that Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Foundation Trust has appropriately addressed the actions agreed in its undertaking signed November 2013.
  • 12 May 2014 The Moray Council. An undertaking to comply with the seventh data protection principle has been signed by The Moray Council. This follows an investigation into the loss of a file containing adoption meeting papers at a café in the local area.
  • 25 April 2014 Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council. An undertaking to comply with the seventh data protection principle has been signed by Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council. This follows an investigation whereby a social worker had left a case file containing sensitive personal data at a client’s home. The case file outlined child welfare concerns and disclosed the identity of the source.
  • 15 April 2014 Wirral Borough Council. An undertaking to comply with the seventh data protection principle has been signed by Wirral Borough Council after social services records containing sensitive personal information were sent to the wrong addresses on two occasions. The information, which was disclosed in February and April 2013, included sensitive personal details relating to two families living in the borough and in one case included details of a criminal offence committed by one of the family members.
  • 15 April 2014 Wokingham Borough Council. An undertaking to comply with the seventh data protection principle has been signed by Wokingham Borough Council, after sensitive social services records relating to the care of a young child were lost. The information, which had been requested by a family member, was lost after the delivery driver left the documents outside the requester’s home in August 2013.
  • 11 April 2014 Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead. A follow up has been completed to provide an assurance that the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead has appropriately addressed the actions agreed in its undertaking signed September 2013.
  • 28 March 2014 Barking, Havering & Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust. An undertaking to comply with the seventh data protection principle has been signed by Barking, Havering & Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust. This follows an investigation by the ICO into a series of fax related incidents which revealed that the Trust had a very low attendance rate for Information Governance training.
  • 20 March 2014 Disclosure and Barring Service. An undertaking to comply with the first data protection principle has been signed by the Disclosure and Barring Service.
  • 14 March 2014 Cardiff City Council. A follow up has been completed to provide an assurance that Cardiff City Council has appropriately addressed the actions agreed in its undertaking signed August 2013.
  • 13 March 2014 Neath Care. An undertaking to comply with the seventh data protection principle has been signed by Neath Care. This follows the disclosure of ten client care service delivery plans which were found by a member of the public in the street. The care service delivery plans related to elderly people and contained confidential client information on matters such as personal care, medication and key safe numbers.
  • 26 February 2014 Treasury Solicitor’s Department. An undertaking to comply with the seventh data protection principle has been signed by the Treasury Solicitor’s Department. The data controller agreed to put measures in place to ensure the security of the personal data it handles.
  • 24 January 2014 Hillingdon Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. A follow up has been completed to provide an assurance that Hillingdon Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has appropriately addressed the actions agreed in its undertaking signed September 2013.
  • 10 January 2014 Northern Health and Social Care Trust. A follow up has been completed to provide an assurance that Northern Health and

Prosecution

  • 13 November 2014 Harkanwarjit Dhanju. A former pharmacist working for West Sussex Primary Care Trust has been prosecuted for unlawfully accessing the medical records of family members, work colleagues and local health professionals. Harkanwarjit Dhanju was fined £1000, ordered to pay a £100 victim surcharge and £608.30 prosecution costs.
  • 11 November 2014 Matthew Devlin. Company director Matthew Devlin has been fined after illegally accessing one of Everything Everywhere’s (EE) customer databases. Devlin used details of when customers were due a mobile phone upgrade to target them with services offered by his own telecoms companies.
  • 22 August 2014 Dalvinder Singh. A Birmingham banker has been fined after he admitted reading his colleagues bank accounts. He worked in Santander UK’s suspicious activity reporting unit at their Leicester office. His role investigating allegations of money laundering meant he was able to view customer accounts. But he used his access to look at eleven colleagues’ accounts, to learn how much their salaries and bonuses were.
  • 06 August 2014 A Plus Recruitment Limited. A recruitment company has been prosecuted today at Doncaster Magistrates Court for failing to notify with the ICO. A Plus Recruitment Limited pleaded guilty and was fined £300 and ordered to pay costs of £489.95 and a victim surcharge of £30.
  • 05 August 2014 1st Choice Properties (SRAL). A property lettings and management company has been prosecuted for failing to notify with the ICO at Uxbridge Magistrates Court today. 1st Choice Properties (SRAL) was convicted in the defendant’s absence and fined £500, ordered to pay costs of £815.08 and a victim surcharge of £50.
  • 15 July 2014 Jayesh Shah. The owner of a marketing company trading as Vintels has been prosecuted for failing to notify the ICO of changes to his notification at Willesden Magistrates Court today. Jayesh Shah was fined £4000, ordered to pay costs of £2703 and a £400 victim surcharge.
  • 14 July 2014 Hayden Nash Consultants. A recruitment company has been prosecuted for failing to notify with the ICO at Reading Magistrates Court today. Hayden Nash Consultants entered a guilty plea and was fined £200, ordered to pay costs of £489.85 and a £20 victim surcharge.
  • 10 July 2014 Stephen Siddell. A former branch manager for Enterprise Rent-A-Car has been prosecuted for unlawfully stealing the records of almost two thousand customers before selling them to a claims management company. Stephen Siddell was fined £500, ordered to pay a £50 victim surcharge and £264.08 in prosecution costs.
  • 09 July 2014 Global Immigration Consultants Limited. A legal advice company has been prosecuted for failing to notify with the ICO at Manchester Magistrates Court today. Global Immigration Consultants Limited entered a guilty plea and was fined £300, ordered to pay costs of £260.18 and a £30 victim surcharge.
  • 06 June 2014 Darren Anthony Bott. The director of a pensions review company has been prosecuted for failing to notify with the ICO. Darren Anthony Bott of Allied Union Ltd entered a guilty plea and was fined £400, ordered to pay costs of £218.82 and a £40 victim surcharge.
  • 05 June 2014 API Telecom. A telecoms company has been prosecuted by the ICO for failing to comply with an information notice in Westminster Magistrates’ Court yesterday. The company, API Telecom, entered a guilty plea and was fined £200, ordered to pay full costs of £489.85 and the victim surcharge was imposed.
  • 13 May 2014 QR Lettings. A property company has been prosecuted by the ICO for failing to notify under section 17 of the Data Protection Act. QR Lettings pleaded guilty at a hearing on 13 May 2014 at Birkenhead Magistrates Court. The company was fined £250, ordered to pay costs of £260 and a £30 victim surcharge.
  • 25 April 2014 Barry Spencer. A man who ran a company that tricked organisations into revealing personal details about customers has been ordered to pay a total of £20,000 in fines and prosecution costs, as well as a confiscation order of over £69,000 at a hearing at Isleworth Crown Court.
  • 25 April 2014 Allied Union Limited. A pension review company has been prosecuted by the ICO for failing to notify under section 17 of the Data Protection Act.  Allied Union Limited pleaded guilty at a hearing on 25 April 2014 at Swansea Magistrates Court. The company was fined £400, ordered to pay costs of £338.11 and a victim surcharge of £40.
  • 25 March 2014 Help Direct UK Limited. A financial advisors has been prosecuted by the ICO for failing to notify under section 17 of the Data Protection Act. Help Direct UK Limited pleaded guilty at a hearing on 25 March 2014 at Swansea Magistrates Court. The company was fined £250, ordered to pay costs of £248.83 and a victim surcharge of £25.
  • 12 March 2014 Boilershield Limited. A plumbing company and its director have been prosecuted by the ICO for failing to notify under section 17 of the Data Protection Act. Boilershield Limited and its director, Mohammod Ali, pleaded guilty at a hearing on 12 March 2014 at Bromley Magistrates. They were both fined £1,200, ordered to pay costs of £196.87 and a victim surcharge of £120.
  • 11 March 2014 Becoming Green (UK) Ltd. A Cardiff-based green energy deal company, Becoming Green (UK) Ltd, has been prosecuted by the Information Commissioner’s Office after failing to notify the ICO that it handled customers’ personal data. The offence was uncovered when the company was being monitored following concerns about compliance.
  • 24 January 2014 ICU Investigations Limited. Six men who were part of a company that tricked organisations into revealing personal

Enforcements

  • 19 November 2014 Grampian Health Board (NHS Grampian). The Information Commissioner’s Office has ordered NHS Grampian to take action to make sure patients’ information is better protected.
  • 12 November 2014 Hot House Roof Company. The ICO has issued an enforcement notice against Hot House Roof Company ordering them to stop making nuisance marketing calls. The company had failed to honour suppression requests and repeatedly made calls to a number of individuals despite their being TPS registered.
  • 21 October 2014 Abdul Tayub. The Information Commissioner’s Office has served Abdul Tayub with an enforcement notice after he was found to be sending unsolicited marketing mail by electronic means without providing information as to his identity and without prior consent.
  • 12 September 2014 All Claims Marketing Limited. The Information Commissioner’s Office has served All Claims Marketing Limited with an enforcement notice after the company was found to be sending unsolicited marketing mail by electronic means without providing information as to its identity.
  • 03 September 2014 Winchester and Deakin Limited. The Information Commissioner’s Office has served Carmarthen-based direct marketing company Winchester and Deakin Limited (also trading as Rapid Legal and Scarlet Reclaim) with an enforcement notice ordering them to stop making nuisance calls. The move comes after an investigation discovered they had made unsolicited marketing calls to people who had registered with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS) or who had asked not to be contacted.
  • 16 June 2014 DC Marketing Limited. The ICO has issued an enforcement notice against DC Marketing Limited after the company made hundreds of nuisance calls to try and get people to purchase solar panels partly financed by the Green Deal Home Improvement Fund. An ICO investigation found the company also frequently gave a false name to avoid detection.
  • 29 May 2014 Wolverhampton City Council. The ICO has issued an enforcement notice against Wolverhampton City Council, following an investigation into a data breach at the council that occurred in January 2012. The breach was caused when a social worker, who had not received data protection training, sent out a report to a former service user detailing their time in care. However, the social worker failed to remove highly sensitive information about the recipient’s sister that should not have been included.
  • 03 April 2014 Amber UPVC Fabrications Ltd (T/A Amber Windows). The ICO has issued an enforcement notice against Amber Windows ordering them not to call subscribers who have previously told them not to ring or subscribers who have not consented to them calling and have registered the number with the TPS for at least the required 28 days.
  • 10 March 2014 Isisbyte Limited. The ICO has served an enforcement notice on Isisbyte Limited after the company was found to be making unsolicited marketing calls without providing information as to their identity.
  • 10 March 2014 SLM Connect Limited. The ICO has served an enforcement notice on SLM Connect Limited after the company was found to be making unsolicited marketing calls without providing information as to their identity.

Who has breached the Data Protection Act in 2012? Find the complete list here.

Who breached the Data Protection Act in 2013? Find the complete list here.

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