Today’s Legal Cyber Risk, 29th August 2019

The majority of data breaches occur due to preventable human error. We featured on Today’s Legal Cyber Risk commenting on a report exposing that while employees are recognised by businesses as the greatest risk to data protection, it appears that many are still not providing adequate preventative measures, including educating staff.

The Brief, August 2019

Kingsley Hayes talked to The Brief about a typical day in the office including how the team work with clients to carefully assess the damage suffered following a data protection violation.

Report exposes lack of sufficient data security amongst employees

Research published by Egress has exposed that employees are the biggest threat to an organisation’s data protection obligations showing that attitudes and practices when using and sharing personal information are significantly lacking. Read more

data breach compensation
, ,

What is included in a data breach compensation claim?

As data protection solicitors, one of the things we regularly get asked by people who have suffered because of a data breach is “what can I claim for”?

Data breaches can and do cause serious and lasting damage. To claim compensation, you must be able to prove that you suffered as a result of the breach. And, while each case is judged on its own merits, there are some things we would typically look for when it comes to recovering damages for victims of a data breach.

Financial losses

With enough information, cybercriminals can use your bank and credit cards, apply for credit in your name, set up fraudulent bank accounts and access your existing accounts. Evidence of financial losses include things like receipts, bank statements etc.

Distress

Even if you haven’t lost out financially after a data breach, this doesn’t mean that there is no harm done. A data breach can have a significant impact on you, both mentally and physically. For some people, the effects can include a lack of sleep, feeling ill, unsettled or confused. Stress can also affect your friends, your family and your job. When it comes to any psychological effects we may be able to arrange for a medical consultation to help prove your claim.

A number of our clients have suffered life changing consequences following a data breach. In many cases these clients have been examined by experts and have a confirmed diagnosis. Failing to acknowledge the impact a data breach can have on poor mental health is a mistake.

How much data breach compensation can you claim?

Data breach compensation following data hacks and confidentiality breaches can range from a few hundred pounds to tens of thousands of pounds.

For example, someone whose medical records were stolen could be entitled to £6,000. If you do go to court, it is up to the judge to consider all the circumstances, including the seriousness of the breach and the impact on you.

Typically, we would look to claim for:

  • Any money lost (e.g. if a cybercriminal used your bank card)
  • Stress, worry, and anxiety
  • Any recognised psychological injury
  • The effect that the leak has had on your social and home life
  • Any loss of earnings as a direct result of the breach (e.g. if you need time off work or lose your job)
  • The loss of future earnings (e.g. if you have to drop out of university)
  • Any expenses that you have had to pay as a result of the data breach (e.g. private medical care, travel expenses, accommodation, etc.).

How do we prove your claim?

Once you have told us that you want to make a data breach or cybercrime compensation claim, we will send you our initial documentation pack. This sets out what we will do for you, how we will do it, and what we need to proceed with your claim.

Within this pack, you will also find our data breach questionnaire. This lets you tell us as much about your case as possible. We ask you to complete this to best of your ability.

The type of questions we ask include:

  • When the data breach took place
  • When you found out about the data breach
  • What information was stolen/put at risk
  • If you have reported the data breach (e.g. to the ICO, the police etc.)
  • If you have you received any documentation admitting the breach (and if so, when)
  • Whether the organisation that put your data at risk has given you a reference number
  • If you have suffered any distress as a result of the data breach. And if so have you spoken to your GP about this
  • Whether you have any pre-existing vulnerability to distress or psychological trauma
  • Whether you have suffered any financial loss as a result of the breach. And if so, what these losses involve
  • Whether anyone else has been affected by the breach. And if so, who and how.

We need this information to ensure we make the strongest possible claim on your behalf.

Once you have signed and returned the necessary information to us, we will make a start on your case. It is not unusual that – on reviewing your impact form – we uncover information that allows us to increase the value of your claim significantly. What might seem irrelevant to you, could make a massive difference in the eyes of the law. That’s why appointing expert data breach compensation solicitors is essential.

How much does it cost to make a data breach compensation claim?

Access to professional legal advice is a fundamental right. That’s why it is vital that everyone can afford to make a data breach or cybercrime compensation claim should they need to.

Removing the financial risk, at Hayes Connor Solicitors, we provide our services on a no-win, no-fee basis to help our clients get the compensation they deserve. So, if we don’t win, you don’t have to pay us a penny.

If your claim is successful (and that’s what we all want!), you usually have to contribute towards your solicitor’s costs. This ‘success fee’ is taken from the compensation awarded to you. The amount of the success fee depends on when your case is settled, but with Hayes Connor Solicitors, you never have to pay more than 25% of your compensation.

What’s more, if enough people come forward to make a large group action claim, we might be able to waive this fee (by getting the other party to pay it instead of you). That would mean that there are no solicitor’s fees win or lose. We always make sure you are fully informed about any potential costs before we proceed.

Helping our clients get the compensation they deserve

Every day serious data breaches take place. And, all too often these breaches put people’s mental health and even their lives at risk.

Our data protection solicitors provide high-quality, sensitive legal advice and support to help victims of data breaches and cybercrime to claim compensation. We may be able to act for you on a NO WIN, NO FEE basis.

Find out more about making a data breach claim with Hayes Connor Solicitors.

 

compensation
,

Claiming compensation for distress under the Data Protection Act

If you have been the victim of a breach of your personal data, the Data Protection Act gives you the right to compensation. You can claim for any money you lose because of a data breach. For example, if a cybercriminal uses your credit card to buy something or steals from your bank account.

But most Data Protection Act breaches don’t actually lead to financial loss. Instead, it is much more common for people to suffer from emotional distress following the misuse of their personal data.

What does the law say?

Until a few years ago, anyone who wanted to claim for distress following a breach of the Data Protection Act first had to prove that they had also suffered financial loss. But this is no longer the case.

And, since a landmark case in 2015[1], there have been many successful claims for distress. So, if you have suffered emotionally after an organisation breached any part of the Data Protection Act (the UK’s interpretation of the GDPR), you have a right to claim compensation.

For example, in 2016, six asylum seekers received awards of between £2,500 and £12,500 after their personal data was inadvertently published on the Home Office website.

What will the court look at when deciding how much compensation to award?

When making a compensation award, the court will look at the specific circumstances of your case. This includes things like the sensitivity of the data compromised and the nature of the disclosure.

However, the court may be prepared to award damages even in cases where your fears about what might happen with your data are not rational. Simply the threat of disclosure, and the loss of trust in authorities resulting from a data breach could result in compensation.

The emotional impact of a Data Protection Act breach should not be underestimated

If a criminal came into your home and stole your private letters and other information, you would be distressed. So why should you feel any less upset at having your online data taken?

The emotional impact of a data breach can be devastating. For some people, the effects can include a lack of sleep, feeling ill, unsettled or confused. Stress can also affect a person’s friends, family and job. We deal with serious cases that put people’s mental health and even their lives at risk. So, downplaying the impact of a data breach claim is extremely disrespectful to the victims.

Who is responsible?

While cybercriminals often target organisations to steal their data, in most cases, data breaches aren’t caused by scammers trying to hack big businesses, but by companies not taking data protection seriously resulting in simple human errors.

However, even where criminals are involved, in most cases organisations have not invested in adequate levels of security. So, the hackers only managed to steal the data because nobody put a “lock on the door”.

Make a Data Protection Act compensation claim with Hayes Connor Solicitors

At Hayes Connor Solicitors, we believe that companies must be held to account for their failure to protect your information.

Some people would have us believe that claiming for distress is an overreaction. That your physiological suffering and anguish doesn’t matter. You might hear friends and family saying that, while it is acceptable to claim compensation for any financial losses, you should put up with any anxiety caused by having your information stolen. But we should all be very worried about what could happen if our data gets into the wrong hands. Why shouldn’t you seek compensation for a failure to look after your information correctly?

Crucially, the law understands the damage that can be caused by worry and upset. So you are 100% within your rights to make a compensation claim.

What’s more, claiming compensation for distress isn’t just in your best interests, it could be the only way to ensure that businesses everywhere implement more secure processes.

If you have been the victim of a data breach or cyber fraud, find out how we can help you to get data breach compensation by completing our enquiry form or give us a call to discuss your case in more depth.

Or, for more advice on how to keep your data safe, follow us on Twitter and Facebook.


[1] Google Inc v Vidal-Hall and others [2015]

thebusinessdesk.com, 19th August 2019

We featured on thebusinessdesk with news of an eight-fold increase in the number of data breach claims received by the team at Hayes Connor.

 

 

 

employment data breach
, ,

How Hayes Connor helps our clients after an employment data breach

At Hayes Connor Solicitors, we help our clients get the compensation they deserve. We do this following data protection breaches, cybercrime, and other online offences. One type of claim we see a lot of is the employment data breach. Here are just some of the employment data breach cases we have helped our clients with recently.

Breach of data leading to an employment dispute

Our client was referred to a qualified third-party for a standard workplace assessment. This assessment was designed to make sure she had everything she needed to reach her full potential in her job. However, the party conducting the evaluation added sensitive personal information about her to their report. And they gave this to her employer.

This information was not relevant to the assessment. Moreover, it led to a dispute between our client and her employer over the disclosures she made while applying for her job.

In response, our client made a data breach claim against the workplace assessment provider. And, as well as claiming for the initial breach of her sensitive information, she also claimed for the loss and injury she suffered by the infringement when this knowledge was used against her.

Employment data breach leads to an increase in unwanted spam

Our client suffered a data breach when his employer was hacked and his financial information was put at risk.

As a result of the hack, our client was bombarded with unwanted spam calls and text messages, Some of which became quite personal. This proved to be very distressing. It resulted in him and his family suffering from distress and worry. Our client was diagnosed with an anxiety-related psychological condition that would require treatment to help him fully recover.

As the spam could be traced back to the original data hack, he was able to claim for the breach of his data and the injury caused.

Help is needed after an employment data breach

Today, such unlawful disclosures are all too familiar. And, in such cases, this can result in complex anxiety and stress.

But in such situations, you can claim damages for any psychological injuries caused by the breach of your personal data. If you find yourself suffering, make sure you seek appropriate medical attention as soon as any symptoms arise so that the impact can be adequately assessed.

At Hayes Connor Solicitors, we are 100% committed to seeking the compensation necessary to help people get their lives back on track following an employment data breach. But we don’t believe that our obligation to our clients stops there – we also provide a wide range of information to help our clients protect themselves once a breach has occurred.

Making an employment data breach compensation claim

We help our clients to make compensation claims after their data was put at risk by the organisations they trusted to look after it. And we will make sure that your employment rights are protected during and after any claim against an employer.

Our professional, friendly team will advise you on whether you have a valid claim against an employer (or third-party). If you have a substantial case, we may be able to act on a NO WIN, NO FEE basis.  Our process is fully compliant with ICO guidance, and we never put your details at risk. We will NEVER pass your details onto anyone without your permission.

Contact us today for a free initial assessment.


Data protection solicitors

At Hayes Connor Solicitors, we are committed to upholding the data protection rights of our clients. For more advice on your rights, and how to keep your data safe, follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

british airways data breach
, ,

ANOTHER British Airway’s Data Breach

Yes, that was our reaction too! A vulnerability with British Airway’s check-in procedures has, once again, exposed passenger information. Astonishingly, this comes just weeks after The ICO announced plans to fine British Airways £183.93 million for its 2018 data breach.

What has happened in the third BA data breach?

Researchers at security firm Wandera have uncovered unencrypted links within BA’s e-ticketing process. They warned that this vulnerability means attackers could easily intercept these links to access and change the flight booking details and personal information of passengers.

A spokesperson from Wandera said:

“In an effort to streamline the user experience, passenger details are included in the URL parameters that direct the passenger from the email to the British Airways website where they are logged in automatically so they can view their itinerary and check-in for their flight.

 “The passenger details included in the URL parameters are the booking reference and surname, both of which are exposed because the link is unencrypted.”

Email addresses, phone numbers, membership numbers, first and last names, booking references, itinerary, flight numbers, flight times, seat numbers and baggage allowances could also be exposed.

BA is not alone

The threat was discovered last month. It came to light after someone from the Wandera research time accessed BA’s e-ticketing system from its network. But BA is not alone. The security firm also discovered similar weaknesses affecting several other airlines. This includes Southwest, KLM, Air France, Jetstar, Thomas Cook, Vueling, Air Europa and Transavia.

Speaking about the risk to passengers, Israel Barak, chief information security officer at cybersecurity company Cybereason, said:

“For the consumer flying with British Airways, or with other carriers, they should be working under the assumption that their personal information has been compromised many times over. “

Already helping hundreds of BA passengers to claim compensation following the 2018 BA data breach, data protection expert and managing director at Hayes Connor Solicitors Kingsley Hayes added his insight into this matter. He said:

“While this latest issue is not limited to British Airways, after recently experiencing two high-profile data breaches, the company should be taking customer security far more seriously.

“You would have thought that – at the very least – BA would have ensured robust encryption was in place at each and every point personal information is processed. But clearly, the threat of a huge fine from the ICO isn’t enough for BA to take its data protection responsibilities seriously enough.

 “The airline must now undertake an in-depth and thorough review of all its processes to make sure that it isn’t putting customers at further risk of cybercrime. Although, that might be too little too late given the damage already done.”

Can you make a BA data breach claim?

It is unclear if the latest breach has led to any customers suffering losses as a result. If you feel that you may have been affected, and have evidence of any loss or fraudulent activity please let us know.

Or, find out more about joining our 2018 data breach group action here.

The BA data breach was able to happen as the airline failed to implement reasonable and robust security processes. So, claiming compensation isn’t just in your best interests. The only way organisations will be persuaded to take their responsibilities seriously is by taking strong and decisive action.

REGISTER NOW

Hayes Connor Solicitors reports eight-fold increase in data breach claims

Data breach and cybersecurity specialist Hayes Connor Solicitors has reported an eight-fold increase in claims in the past 12 months.

The North West based firm has seen a surge in both mass data breaches and individual cases following data protection violations in the public and private sectors. Read more

local authority breach
, ,

How Hayes Connor helps our clients after a local authority data breach

At Hayes Connor Solicitors, we help our clients get the compensation they deserve. We do this following data protection breaches, cybercrime, and other online offences. One type of claim we see a lot of is local authority data breaches.

The public sector is privy to a wide range of our sensitive information. And this data is regularly shared between organisations and departments as part of modern governance and the delivery of public services. But, with data breaches on the rise, government bodies must do more to improve cybersecurity.

Here are just some of the local authority data breath cases we have helped our clients with recently.

Copy of a court order sent to the wrong postal address

In this data breach, a local authority sent a copy of a court order containing sensitive personal information about a father (our client) and his daughter to the wrong postal address.

Just a small error saw the letter being sent to a neighbour, who brought it round to the right address. But the letter had been opened. And after talking to the neighbour,  it became clear that it had also been read.

What’s more, when the letter was passed to the right house, it wasn’t handed to the right person. Because it was opened, it was read by another member of the family. They became distressed at the contents. This went on to cause difficulties in the family.

As a result of a seemingly small admin error when posting the letter, this data breach has caused considerable upset and embarrassment to our client. He had to explain a sensitive situation to his family in more detail than might otherwise have been necessary. And, his neighbours became aware of a very private and sensitive situation. One which has been talked about within his small local community.

As such the consequences of the error and the impact on his mental health were far-reaching.

Woman’s driving licence shared without her permission by a local council

The secretary of a committee informed our client that the local council had emailed them a copy of her driving license.

Concerned that her data had been breached, our client searched online for a data breach solicitor. She then emailed Hayes Connor to find out if we thought the case was worth taking on. We agreed that her data had been breached and took her case on a no-win, no-fee basis. We sent her a detailed questionnaire which she filled out and returned so we could prepare her case.

Next, we instructed our appointed barrister to provide expert advice on her prospects of success and the amount of compensation she was entitled to for the data breach.

Then we sent a letter before action (LBA) to the council. The LBA let the local authority know that we would be starting proceedings against it and we were very serious about getting her the compensation she deserved for the distress caused by the violation.

The council responded, attempting to justify why it felt her claim was not valid. However, we replied setting out why it was, and we requested that they supply a number of documents as evidence. We also sent a ‘Part 36’ offer to the authority. This is designed to encourage parties to settle disputes without going to trial. This offer was accepted.

Commenting on her experience, our client said: “Highly professional and very informative, every step of the way. Also been very helpful! After this experience I can’t think of anything at all that could improve your service. Everything was explained to myself in a straightforward way, and I certainly would recommend Hayes Connor, without a doubt! Absolutely fantastic!”

Help is needed after a local authority data breach

As central and local government becomes digital, it is vital that there are adequate and robust protections in place to secure the data and information held within it. And that public sector staff have the knowledge and ability to handle such data securely. But all too often this isn’t happening.  And, as you can see, the result of not looking after personal information properly could put people’s mental health, and potentially even their lives at risk.

At Hayes Connor Solicitors, we are 100% committed to seeking the compensation necessary to help people get their lives back on track following a data breach. But we don’t believe that our obligation to our clients stops there – we also provide a wide range of information to help our clients protect themselves once a breach has occurred.

Making a local authority data breach compensation claim

We help our clients to make compensation claims after their data was put at risk by the organisations they trusted to look after it.

Our professional, friendly team will advise you on whether you have a valid claim against a local council, department or other government body. If we believe you have a substantial, complex case, we may be able to act for you on a NO WIN, NO FEE basis.  Our process is fully compliant with ICO guidance, and we never put your details at risk. We will NEVER pass your details onto anyone without your permission.

Contact us today for a free initial assessment.