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2018 data breaches. What do you need to know?

data breach solicitors

Over the last 12 months, cyber-attacks and data breaches have rarely been out of the headlines. And, this is causing more and more of us to worry about what might happen if hackers manage to access our accounts and steal our valuable data.

The truth is, in a digital age, almost everything we do online needs a degree of trust. From buying a holiday to sharing on Facebook or checking our credit rating. But, all too often, the companies we are putting our faith in are letting us down. And, all too often we don’t know we are being hacked until it is too late.

Here are some of the most significant data leaks our expert data protection lawyers have been dealing with this year.


In June 2018, Ticketmaster UK identified malicious software on a customer support product hosted by an external third-party supplier.

Following the breach, Ticketmaster admitted that thousands of UK customer data had been accessed. This included a number of customers’ personal and financial details.

Find out more about the Ticketmaster data breach.


The Equifax data breach might have started in 2017, but throughout 2018 we continued to be contacted by people worried that their data had been breached.

The second-largest credit reference agency in the UK, Equifax is used by a wide range of companies. So, even people who were not Equifax customers discovered that the company held a wealth of information about them. Information which lenders use to assess whether to give credit cards, loans, mortgages etc.

As a result, up to 15 million British consumers were at risk of having their personal details stolen.

An ICO investigation, carried out in parallel with the Financial Conduct Authority, revealed multiple failures at the credit reference agency. And, as a result, Equifax has now been fined £500,000.

Find out more about the Equifax data breach.

British Airways

Initially, it was revealed that almost 400,000 British Airways customers had had their personal and bank/credit card details stolen in what was reported to be one of the most severe cyber-attacks in UK history.

Worryingly, it took over two weeks before the data breach was detected by the airline. In response, questions were asked as to whether poor systems have made this cyber-attack worse.

When investigating this case, a second data breach was also uncovered. In this instance, 77,000 people had their names, addresses, email addresses and detailed payment information taken. This included card numbers, expiry dates, and card verification value (CVV) numbers. And, a further 108,000 people had their personal details stolen.

Find out more about the BA data breach

Dixons Carphone

The Dixons (Carphone Warehouse) data breach took place in 2017 and resulted in 10 million customer records being accessed from Currys PC World and Dixons Travel stores. The details stolen by cyber criminals include names, addresses, phone numbers, dates of birth, and email addresses. All of which can be used by cybercriminals to commit further crimes. The hackers also got access to the records of 5.9 million payments cards (nearly all of which were protected by chip and pin).

Again, while this case took place in 2017, the ramifications have continued into this year.

Find out more about the Dixons Carphone data breach


Earlier this year, a whistle-blower revealed how Facebook data was illegally harvested and used to influence the US Presidential election. The violation occurred after Cambridge Analytica targeted users with political messaging after obtaining data from the social media platform. Questions were raised over whether this data was also used to influence the outcome of the Brexit referendum.

To make matters worse for the social media giant, in addition to the Cambridge Analytica scandal, the platform was also hacked in September. In this instance, hackers stole digital login codes in what has been described as Facebook’s worst-ever security breach.

Steps to follow after a data breach

With people everywhere now facing the threat of more regular security breaches, it’s vital that you know what to do should you become a victim of online data theft.

  • If you are worried that your banking details have been exposed, contact your bank immediately
  • Beware of fraudsters who attempt to gather personal information (phishing)
  • Report any suspected phasing attempts to the police and relevant authorities
  • Look out for any bills or emails showing goods or services you haven’t ordered, or any unfamiliar transactions on your account and alert your bank or card provider immediately if there is any suspicious activity
  • Keep an eye on your credit score for any unexpected dips. Call Credit, Experian and Equifax to ensure credit isn’t taken out in your name
  • Beware of any unsolicited communications that refer you to a web page asking for personal data
  • Register with a suitable fraud prevention service
  • Change your passwords.
  • If you are offered any form of compensation or free services from the organisation that put your data at risk it’s important to check the small print. Be careful that in accepting any offer you are not giving away your rights to pursue a separate data breach compensation claim at a later date
  • If you decide you want to make a data breach claim, read our handy step-by-step guide. If you have suffered damage or distress caused by an organisation breaching any part of the Data Protection Act, you have a right to claim compensation
  • Inform the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) about your concerns. While it does not award compensation, if the ICO believes that the organisation in question broke the law, you can use this information in court to help prove your claim
  • Contact Hayes Connor Solicitors. Our expert, online fraud and data protection solicitors will advise you on whether you have a valid claim and will be pleased to answer any questions you might have. If you are not sure whether your information has been misused or mishandled, we can find this out for you. Our initial assessment is always free. We’ll ensure that you are fully informed on this matter and will notify you about the investigation and your legal rights when making a claim.
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