Should CEOs be held directly accountable for data breaches?

Should CEOs be held directly accountable for data breaches?

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With recent data hacks being so huge, like the TalkTalk hack, social media giants MySpace and dating site hacks such as Beautiful People, more needs to be done to help prevent online attacks.

There has now been a call for more responsibility to be put on company CEOs to make them more accountable when dealing with a data breach. This has been a recommendation by the Culture, Media and Sport Committee, who carried out a report in the wake of the TalkTalk data hack.

In 2015 over 150,000 TalkTalk customers had their personal details hacked. Thousands of customer’s bank account details were stolen and nearly 250,000 customers have reportedly stopped using TalkTalk since the attack.

The Report

The Culture, Media and Sport Committee carried out a report last year in the wake of the TalkTalk data hack. Upon investigating the TalkTalk data breach, the report made a list of recommendations that should be carried out in order to minimise the risk of future attacks.

One of the recommendations put forward by the report was to make CEOs and IT decision makers more accountable once a breach has taken place. Although it recommends that full responsibility should belong to the person who will be dealing with the case on a day to day basis, it also recommends that CEO’s financial earnings be affected.

The report wants CEO’s to have a vested interest in preventing breaches of data, and therefore recommends that a portion of the CEO’s income should be linked with how effective the company’s cyber security is. This could include things like salary, stock options, and bonuses.

CEO of TalkTalk, Dido Harding, offered to donate her bonus of £220,000 to charity in the wake of the recommendations from the report. However, despite being CEO at the time of the TalkTalk hack, she saw her pay almost triple to £2.8 million that year.

Data Hacks are becoming more common

As previously mentioned, these sorts of attacks are becoming more frequent.

Sites like Ashely Madison, a dating website that helps set up affairs for those who are married, suffered a serious data hack – thousands of email addresses and credit card details belonging to its members were breached and sold on the ‘dark web’.

In a survey that was carried out, 97% of companies admitted that they did not have sufficient systems for protecting data that would keep hackers out. With data hacks becoming more frequent, the recommendation by the report to have CEOs directly affected financially, would hopefully ensure more stringent security methods are in place to stop a data breach from happening.

It is an interesting concept and it does make you wonder if CEOs were to suffer financial losses due to poorly protected customer data, would hacking attacks be as common as they have been recently?

We’ll keep an eye on this story as it develops…

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