According to recent data analysis by Redscan, Trusts have begun to deal with and address NHS cyber-skills shortages in the past two years, although there is still a lot of ground to cover to tackle the problem of data breaches within the health service. In 2018, it was reportedly revealed by Redscan that around a quarter of NHS Trusts did not have security professionals, whereas now, the figure has dropped to 15% of Trusts.
Despite an average decline in the number of NHS data breaches reported to the ICO, it is still clear that personal information is still not being granted the full security it deserves. In our view, there is still a lot of work to be done to ensure all NHS Trusts have the appropriate cybersecurity and data protection breaches needed to keep data safe.
We have represented many clients for a number of NHS data breach cases over several years, so we have seen just how devastating the effects can be when sensitive medical information is compromised. In accordance with UK data protection law, every citizen has a right to strong data protection, which is why we can help victims of data breaches to assert their rights by making compensation claims.
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.
In February last year, it was revealed that Redcar and Cleveland Council had fallen prey to a cyber-attack, bringing many of its online resident services to a standstill for a prolonged period of time. Although systems were eventually repaired and services reinstated, the effects of the cyberattack are still being felt now, over a year after the attack, primarily in the huge financial toll it took on the council.
In fact, the government has been set to intervene to help the council with the funding, after millions of pounds were expended on the effort of rebuilding its systems. The prolonged recovery work raises questions about whether Redcar and Cleveland Council’s systems should have been stronger in order to defend against the attack in the first place, and whether the council had an attack response plan in place before they were hit.
This all shows how costly an attack can be, and why it is always so much better to take preventative action instead of an event taking place.
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.
Recent coverage has revealed that action taken by bank employees and police prevented some £45m of fraud in 2020, saving customers from the loss of an average of almost £6,000 each. The figure is a testament to the success of the Banking Protocol scheme that encourages banks and the police to work together to protect consumers.
However, the huge £45m sum is also a sign of the scale of fraud in the UK. As leading, specialists in data protection law, we believe that the link between data breaches and fraud is a problem that needs to be addressed. When a third-party organisation fails to protect your personal information, it may be leaked into the hands of cybercriminals, who may attempt to steal from you via various kinds of manipulative scams.
We believe that it is essential that all data controllers are held to account when they fail to observe their legal duties. We have helped thousands of consumers to recover the compensation that they deserve, so we encourage any data breach victims to come forward for free, no-obligation advice on their potential claims.
In June 2018, Ticketmaster revealed that a security incident had affected its website, causing the personal information of customers to be exposed. Discovered on 23rd June, the information was exposed due to the actions of an external hacker, but questions were raised regarding how far the incident had been caused by Ticketmaster’s own alleged negligence. We began taking on claims soon after the breach was announced, and we are now running our Ticketmaster data group action to ensure that those affected can receive the compensation that they deserve.
The breach has potentially demonstrated how insufficient cybersecurity could be responsible for mass information exposure. Thousands of customers had sensitive payment details exposed as a result of what we understand to be a system vulnerability, so we believe that Ticketmaster must answer for what has happened.
If you have been affected by this data breach, you can contact our team to find out if you have a compensation claim to make.
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.
We naturally expect that healthcare professionals and their support staff will treat our private data with the respect it deserves, only viewing, accessing or sending information when it is strictly necessary. However, there are unfortunately certain individuals who seek to take advantage of the access they are given. NHS staff misusing information are not only breaking with professional standards, they could also be breaching data protection law.
As leading specialists in data breach claims, we have encountered a number of cases in which patient information has been accessed or processed unlawfully by employees. Using our expertise in this area of law, we remind employees that they cannot get away with the misuse of patient records, ensuring that they face consequences for their actions.
In cases where staff are found guilty of breaching data protection regulations, the victims could be eligible to claim compensation. Medical data is often highly sensitive, and no one should ever be made to feel that such information has been compromised or put a risk. If you have been affected by an incident like this, you can contact us for advice on your potential compensation claim.
Hospitals and doctors’ surgeries host visits from large numbers of patients every day, and are treated as places of safety and refuge for those with health issues. Unfortunately, despite the fact that patient-doctor confidentiality is a principle at the heart of the medical profession, some hospitals and healthcare sector organisations are letting down the patients who trust them by failing to protect private data.
We constantly hear how much strain the NHS is under, but the lack of resources and staff is not often seen from the perspective of cybersecurity and data protection. In the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, NHS staff were put under even greater pressure to meet the demands of controlling the virus and, in some cases, data protection has been further neglected.
It is essential that healthcare organisations see data protection as a high priority, or they risk exposing patient data, as has already been the case in many previous healthcare data breaches. Whether it is a case of government funding or internal organisational issues, all healthcare organisations must step up and meet the challenge of the ongoing, and increasing, cybersecurity risks that they face.
With so many NHS employees and resources devoted to suppressing the spread of Covid-19, data security concerns have inadvertently been pushed to one side by healthcare organisations in 2020 in some cases.
It is believed that cybercriminals took advantage of this gap in data protection by launching more attacks on hospitals and other public health organisations. Meanwhile, human error has continued to be a contributing factor, causing several notable healthcare breaches in 2020 also.
The coronavirus pandemic has undoubtedly laid bare the security risks faced by healthcare organisations. Though cyberattack attempts have likely increased during the Covid-19 crisis, healthcare organisations have always been prime targets for cybercriminals, given the sensitivity of the information they hold. As such, the same risks will confront them in the years to come if changes are not made.
We have witnessed first-hand the damage that can be caused by data breaches in our support for the victims. Anyone who has suffered the effects of healthcare data breaches, or any other kind of data breach, may be able to claim compensation for the harm caused.