A former Wiltshire Council social worker has reportedly been taken to court over a “serious breach of trust”, having been found to have accessed sensitive information without reason or authorisation.
As a social worker, the individual in question was granted certain data access privileges. It has been reported by the Gazette and Herald that she abused her position in a way that could have put the privacy and safety of vulnerable people at risk.
Social workers naturally have a high level of trust invested in them, so it is understandable that there is a no-tolerance policy for any employees who breach this trust. Social services data breaches like this can have severe consequences for those affected, particularly where vulnerable minors are involved, as their personal details often must be kept under highly restricted access in order to protect them from abusive adults. We represent people for these kinds of cases quite a lot. As such, it is essential that anyone who threatens to compromise the need for data protection is punished accordingly.
It has recently been confirmed that a former Hampshire police officer has been reportedly banned from ever entering the police service again after it was found that he accessed private records without a valid policing reason. The Special Constable in question is understood to have resigned from his position before superiors could dismiss him for his data snooping.
While police officers are granted information access to records and details that are needed for casework, they are not authorised to view or use information outside of their policing workload without any good reason. Campbell violated his professional duty by accessing information without a legitimate reason, reportedly only browsing the records due to “curiosity”.
Regardless of the motives of the Hampshire police officer, there is no excuse for breaching data protection law. We trust the police service to maintain strict control over personal information, so it is important that any officers who breach the duty they owe to the public are held accountable for their actions.
In many cases, data protection breaches arise as a result of human error. A CybSafe analysis of data breaches reported to the ICO found that 90% of UK data breaches in 2019 were caused by user mistakes. The employees responsible for cybersecurity would, therefore, seem to be failing to adhere to data protection law, but there is much more to it than that.
Despite the high incidence of human error, it is employers who bear the ultimate responsibility for upholding data protection at their companies. This can mean that, when a data breach occurs, organisations may be liable to pay compensation. If you have been affected by a data breach caused by an employee, you can still have every right to make a claim and recover compensation from the organisation as a whole.
Despite looking up private police records without authorisation, a Detective Sergeant has recently evaded dismissal following a misconduct hearing. In the Northamptonshire detective data breach case, the Detective Sergeant reportedly looked up the details of a woman with whom he was engaging in an extra-marital relationship with at the time, who was involved in a case he was working on.
His actions reportedly amounted to misconduct, so the Northamptonshire Police appear to be sending mixed messages by not taking the matter any further. The police can, and often do, dismiss officers for similar offences, but this officer’s acceptance of the accusations against him, and his standing in the force, seem to have allowed him to avoid further consequences.
Police data breaches like this should be treated with the severity that they merit, taking account of the potential damage such actions can cause. Police services cannot afford to let employees off lightly for breaching data access regulations, as doing so could risk compromising the force’s reputation and its overall data security and integrity.
NHS CCTV cameras have reportedly been embroiled in a hack affecting security footage across the globe, after security company Verkada is understood to have been breached by hackers. It is said that live streams for as many as 150,000 Closed-Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras may have been viewed by unauthorised users.
Serving organisations include prisons, general businesses, schools and even psychiatric hospitals. The breach of Verkada’s cameras may have exposed the identities of many people working in, living in, or visiting affected institutions.
It is unclear exactly which feeds hackers may have viewed and what they gleaned from the footage, but it is nevertheless worrying to learn that a security firm has been subjected to such a wide-reaching breach. There is currently no evidence that any NHS camera feeds were viewed by hackers, but Verkada lists the NHS as one of its clients on the company website. Hackers have also claimed that they have been able to access the cameras of any of the affected organisations.
A woman has recently reported receiving the coronavirus test result of another unknown woman, reportedly sent in a text message by the NHS. Not only did the text reveal the negative test status of the unknown woman, it is understood that it also listed her full name, birth date and the result of her test. The recipient of the message has expressed concern that such a data breach was allowed to occur, particularly given that she took a coronavirus test in early January.
Concerns about data privacy have been linked to the Test and Trace system since its beginnings, with several data breach incidents linked to the scheme, including a major error by Public Health Wales. It is concerning that data privacy has fallen short on occasions in the effort to control the Covid-19 outbreak, especially given that mistakes such as misdirected texts can be so easily avoided.
The Test and Trace system may be designed to protect public health, but that does not mean data breaches like this can go unnoticed.
Many of us disclose personal information so often that we don’t even think about it, trusting that the third party that we are handing our information to will protect it securely. Unfortunately, despite the introduction of the GDPR in 2018, many data controllers still break their legal obligations to keep private data safe. The repercussions of a data breach can be serious, with the confidential information exposed becoming subject to misuse.
As specialists in data breach claims, we have seen the consequences that victims can face, which is why we are always determined to hold companies who have exposed data accountable for their actions. We always try to make sure that compensation claims bring no added stress to the victims, so we encourage you to come forward for no-obligation advice if you think you may have a claim to make.
Although no formal incident has occurred, statements made by ex-employees have given rise to Amazon data breach concerns. Describing the attitudes to personal data, one of the former employees, who previously held high-profile positions, reportedly noted that Amazon is unaware if it is protecting information correctly. The coverage suggested that Amazon does not have a handle on the huge quantities of data it has aggregated, which is a worrying thought given the company’s status as one of the largest businesses in the world.
The insider perspectives provide no confirmation of breaches of data protection law, but it is nevertheless worrying to think that the concerns of security experts were reportedly dismissed during time spent at Amazon. As a leading international e-commerce company, million of users visit Amazon sites all the time.
Holding millions of customers’ information, the data protection responsibilities of Amazon are monumental. As such, if a breach were to occur, the effects could be devastating. As leading specialists in data breach claims, we want to see that all companies are taking their duties seriously, as we know how serious the repercussions can be for victims who have their information exposed.
In late February, it was revealed that some customers of energy company Npower had suffered hacks of their accounts via the customer app that affected its users’ private data. The company has not put a number on the victims affected, but it is believed that the attack took place in early February, after which those affected were notified of their involvement. It is currently understood that Npower is not to blame for the hack, with no evidence that the company has breached data protection law. We will outline how the hacks happened in this article. Nevertheless, those with hacked Npower accounts are at immediate risk of fraud, with criminals targeting accounts to try to break into them as opposed to successfully breaking into Npower’s own servers and systems.
As advocates of data security, we believe it is important to highlight the risks Npower app users have been exposed to, even where the company is found to not be at fault for what has happened. Even if you have not been affected by the cyberattack, it still offers a valuable lesson about the risks of data exposure and the actions we can take as individuals to protect our personal data, and how criminals can target accounts to break into them.
Despite the introduction of the GDPR in 2018, many data controllers still neglect their duties, and personal data continues to be exposed. It is important to hold companies accountable for data protection breaches and compensation claims can help to ensure that the responsible parties suffer repercussions for their actions.
Moreover, victims of data protection breaches deserve to be fairly compensated for any harm they have suffered, as it can be incredibly worrying and stressful to have your data exposed to potential misuse. Your Lawyers – The Data Leak Lawyers – as leading, specialists in data breach claims, use our expertise to ensure our clients can receive the most compensation possible.