faqs about hcs
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FAQs about HCS

Here at Hayes Connor Solicitors, our core aim is to help our clients get the compensation they deserve following data protection breaches, cybercrime, and other online offences.

To give you an idea about how we do this, here are some of the most common questions we get asked about our firm and the work we do.

Cybercrime is quite new. How can Hayes Connor Solicitors be compensation experts?

Over the past year, our firm has established itself as the only niche provider of legal services in this area. A relatively new and evolving area of law, this is all we do, and we have become a true specialist in data breach law. As such, we lead our field when it comes to understanding the complexities involved.

But before that, we worked on different types of compensation claims. And, with over 50 years’ experience helping our clients secure the justice they deserve, our solicitors work tirelessly to ensure the best possible outcome for you. Both in terms of damages achieved and service delivered.

What type of cybercrime and data breach cases do Hayes Connor Solicitors do?

At Hayes Connor, our experts deal with a significant volume of data breach cases each day. During our work, we see many different types of claims and how data breaches can affect people in different ways. There are two main ways we get compensation for our clients:

Group actions

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. However, in many cases, where a breach occurs, you won’t be the only person making a claim. In such circumstances, it is often worth joining a group action claim.

Find out more about our NO WIN, NO FEE group actions.

Individual cases

In most cases, data breaches aren’t caused by scammers trying to hack big businesses, but by simple human errors. And while these incidents don’t make the headlines, for those involved the experience can be devastating.

Take a look at our case studies to see how we are helping people across the UK to win the compensation they deserve – often on a NO WIN, NO FEE basis.

Will Hayes Connor Solicitors keep my data safe?

Absolutely. We know that making a claim can be difficult. Particularly where your sensitive information has already been breached or another online offence made against you.

Once we have your details, we treat these with the utmost care, compassion, and privacy.  We never pass on these details to third parties for marketing purposes – or indeed for any other reason without express permission. This commitment to ensuring our customers’ peace of mind is absolute.

As well as making sure all personal details are protected/confidential, we also deal with all enquiries sensitively and professionally, and we never ask unnecessary or intrusive questions.

Is it difficult to make a data breach or cybercrime compensation claim?

At Hayes Connor Solicitors, we understand that making a compensation claim can be stressful. As such, we’ve created a handy step-by-step guide to help explain the process.

Read our step-by-step guide to making a data breach claim.

Also, we understand that you want a fast, efficient, no-nonsense service – and that’s precisely how we deliver legal services to our clients. As such, we use the latest technology and a highly-trained team to provide excellence of service.

How much do Hayes Connor Solicitors charge to make a data breach or cybercrime compensation claim?

Access to professional legal advice is a fundamental right. That’s why it’s important 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. But what does this actually mean and are there really no costs if you appoint us?

Read our ‘Explaining No Win, No Fee’ guide.

Can’t I just make a claim without a solicitor?

You can make a data breach or cybercrime claim on your own. What’s more, if you go ahead and no settlement is reached, you can even represent yourself in court. In fact, the number of people doing this in recent years has increased.

The legal term for representing yourself this way is called ‘litigating in person’ (LiP). However, while there has been a rise in the number of people doing this, this is often because they don’t think they have any choice due to a lack of alternative funding options.

At Hayes Connor, we believe that the best way to make organisations pay for their failures is to use a specialist lawyer. Of course, you would expect us to say that – but let us explain why.

Firstly we have the legal expertise needed to take on big players such as Ticketmaster, Dixons Carphone and Equifax. And, where enough people come forward, we might even launch a group action against a company.

We believe that a group action is undoubtedly the best way forward for data breach claims of this nature. It allows people with the same type of claim to bring it together on a collective basis to strengthen their overall position and increase their chances of settlement or success in litigation.

In addition to our own legal expertise, we also work with expert barristers to help us win our cases. So we are confident that our team will get the results you deserve.

On the other hand, when it comes to making a compensation claim, a lack of care can leave data breach victims open to advice and representation below the standard expected by the profession, and this could ultimately see you lose out financially as a result.

Crucially, we deal with all breach claims on a no-win, no-fee basis. This means that, if your claim is not successful, you won’t have to pay a penny.

How much will Hayes Connor Solicitors charge me if I win?

To cover our costs, if we win your claim, we will charge a success fee. This is capped at 25% of any compensation you receive. We have to charge this to cover our costs in smaller/individual cases. There are no hidden charges or other administration fees.

In some larger group actions, we expect to be paid by the offending party and might even be able to work at no charge to you. This means, when you win, unlike with a claims management company, you could receive 100% of the compensation awarded to you.

Will you explain everything in plain English?

Absolutely, we are committed to keeping you informed, every step of the way. In fact, we have created loads of content to ensure you always know what’s happening.

We do this because we want our clients to have as much information as possible before making a claim so that they feel fully informed at all times. Through this approach, we ensure that the process of making a data breach claim is understood, straightforward and stress-free.

Read our latest News & Resources.

Will you pressure me into making a data breach or cybercrime compensation claim?

No way. We hate spam and pushy lawyers!

At Hayes Connor Solicitors, we only ever deal with organic enquiries. We never buy data, cold call, or send spam texts or emails. Even our PPC campaigns are monitored to reduce the spam effect, and we never pressure anyone into making a claim. We feel this is essential when it comes to protecting our clients, and upholding the standards of the legal profession.

Will you help me to recover from a data breach or cybercrime?

Yes of course. This is why we believe that it’s vital that people seek compensation to help them get their lives back on track as soon as possible. But we don’t believe that our obligation to our clients stops there. So, we also provide a wide range of information to help our clients protect themselves once a breach has occurred.

We also work with Victim Support to help those affected by cybercrime and data breaches. The partnership sees us provide the charity with regular expertise and advice on its legal content.

Lancaster University data breach. What do we know?
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Lancaster University data breach. What do we know?

Lancaster University has become the latest organisation to suffer at the hands of cybercriminals after a “sophisticated and malicious phishing attack”. The university, which offers a GCHQ-accredited degree in security, is now withdrawing non-business-critical access to a breached student database. However, questions must be asked over why this is only happening now – more than a week after the Lancaster University data hack took place.

What happened in the Lancaster University data breach?

The Lancaster University data breach has affected between 12,000 and 20,000 people. This includes undergraduate applicants for 2019 and 2010, as well as some current students. The personal information accessed includes names, addresses, phone numbers and email addresses. Worryingly, the university has also admitted that fraudulent invoices “had been sent to some undergraduate applicants”.

Find out more about phishing scams. And what you can do if you have received a fake invoice claiming to be from Lancaster University.

The student and applicant records database hit by the data breach (LUSI) was developed in-house. It has been operational for about five years.

A spokesperson for the university said: “In response to the recent cyber incident, we are taking steps to enhance the security of all University systems. We are therefore in the process of limiting users’ access to data and functionality in LUSI.”

Have you been affected by the Lancaster University data breach?

In a prepared statement, the university said:

“Lancaster University has been subject to a sophisticated and malicious cyber-attack which has resulted in breaches of student and applicant data. The matter has been reported to law enforcement agencies and we are now working closely with them.

We are aware of two breaches of data:

  1. Undergraduate student applicant data records for 2019 and 2020 entry have been accessed. This includes information such as their name, address, telephone number, and email address. We are aware that fraudulent invoices are being sent to some undergraduate applicants. We have alerted applicants to be aware of any suspicious approaches.
  2. A breach has also occurred of our student records system and at the present time we know of a very small number of students who have had their record and ID documents accessed. We are contacting those students to advise them what to do.

We acted as soon as we became aware that Lancaster was the source of the breach on Friday and established an incident team to handle the situation. It was immediately reported to the Information Commissioner’s Office. Since Friday we have focused on safeguarding our IT systems and identifying and advising students and applicants who have been affected. This work of our incident team is ongoing as is the investigation by law enforcement agencies.

We are advising applicants, students and staff to contact us if they receive any suspicious communications via email: admissions-advice@lancaster.ac.uk or phone: 01524 510044.

Because this is a live investigation we will not be making any further comment at this stage.”

Has Lancaster University made a bad situation worse?

A suspect has been arrested following the data hack. However, this does not justify the university not taking measures to revoke access to the compromised system before now.

Cybercrime attacks have become increasingly difficult to avoid. But, all too often, they are only successful because an organisation has not put the necessary prevention methods in place to keep data safe. To make matters worse, many are falling short of what we would expect when a failure in data privacy occurs.

At Hayes Connor Solicitors, our experience shows that the quicker such incidents are responded to and security tightened following a cyberattack, the better. Leaving compromised systems exposed is just asking for trouble. Faster incident response and breach handling must become a priority if organisations are serious about their data protection responsibilities.

How can Hayes Connor Solicitors help?

If you have been a victim of the Lancaster University data breach, we can help you to claim compensation for any financial losses or distress. Claiming compensation isn’t just in your best interests. The only way these organisations will be persuaded to take their responsibilities seriously and make the necessary improvements is by hurting their bottom line.

Our professional, friendly team will be pleased to answer any questions you might have about claiming. We will also go through your options and let you know about our NO WIN, NO FEE agreements.

We understand that making a compensation claim can be stressful; especially where you have already been the victim of a crime. That’s why we make sure you always know what’s happening and remove the jargon from the process.

Our process is fully compliant with data protection requirements. And we never put your details at risk.






Have you been affected by the GateHub cryptocurrency data breach?

Cryptocurrency wallet service GateHub has been involved in a huge data hack. In this case, it is reported that cybercriminals managed to steal 24 million XRP Tokens (commonly referred to as ‘Ripple’) from more than 200 individual GateHub user accounts. In total, the theft is thought to be valued at over $US 10 million.

Media reports suggest that there were between 80 and 90 victims, however, we suspect there could be many more – including UK residents. In some cases, the losses for a single victim run to six-figures.

What happened in the GateHub cryptocurrency data breach?

In June 2019, a statement published on the GateHub blog admitted that some customers had had their ledger wallets hacked and funds stolen. GateHub offers a digital wallet to store cryptocurrencies. It claims that its customers’ money is “always safe and 100% backed” and that, as a company, it is “deeply committed to protecting your personal data”.

The GateHub statement said:

Recently, we have been notified by our customers and community members about funds on their XRP Ledger wallets being stolen and immediately started monitoring network activity and conducted an extensive internal investigation.

Although we have not identified any action or omission by GateHub that may have facilitated or allowed this apparent theft to occur, we apologize deeply to all of our customers for this issue and pledge to get to the bottom of it.

We already sent out an email to all users that might be affected as a result of suspicious API calls with instructions on how to protect their funds.

If you have received an email from us, please read it carefully and act accordingly. IMMEDIATELY transfer all of your existing balance from XRP Ledger wallets to a hosted wallet. You can find instructions on how to do so here.

If you have not received an email from us, then we have no reason to believe your account was compromised.

While the investigation is still underway and we can not post any official conclusions just yet here are a couple of findings so far.

API requests to the victim’s accounts were all authorized with a valid access token. There were no suspicious logins detected, nor there were any signs of brute forcing.

We have however detected an increased amount of API calls (with valid access tokens) coming from a small number of IP addresses which might be how the perpetrator gained access to encrypted secret keys.

That, however, still doesn’t explain how the perpetrator was able to gain other required information needed to decrypt the secret keys.

All access tokens were disabled on June 1st after which the suspicious API calls were stopped.

At the moment we estimate that approximately 100 XRP Ledger wallets were compromised. So far it looks like all the victims had their XRP Ledger wallets hosted on GateHub, but we cannot yet rule out that some wallets were not.

To conclude the investigation as soon as possible, we are working closely with a professional IT forensics team to determine whether our system was compromised or not.

Appropriate Law Enforcement Agencies were also notified about these thefts, and we will work diligently with them to help track the perpetrator who did this.

We will post an official statement after the internal investigation has been completed.

Last but not least, we would like to thank the community for offering continuous help.

Can you get your money back for the GateHub hack?

If it can be shown that inadequate security at GateHub made this hack possible, people affected by the cryptocurrency data breach may be able to claim compensation.

Despite common belief, cryptocurrency crimes do not represent an investigative dead-end. We work with leading technical specialists to investigate cryptocurrency cases and secure justice for victims. These specialists help us to:

  • Understand and evidence how such crimes occurred (including the extent to which any party was negligent)
  • Assess damages
  • Identify offenders
  • Recover assets.

GateHub has already sent out an email to all users that might be affected by the hack. If you are one of the victims, you can find out more about making a cryptocurrency compensation claim here.

Read our GateHub cryptocurrency wallet data breach FAQs to find out more. 

How to protect yourself from cryptocurrency fraud.

Anyone entering the cryptocurrency market must take steps to avoid becoming a victim of theft. This includes:

  • Keeping private keys safe and secret. Whoever knows your private key can access and spend/move your cryptocurrency
  • Keeping your wealth private. This will make you less likely to become the victim of a hack, extortion or ransom attack
  • Practising good online security practices (e.g. password management, protection from viruses and malware, not clicking on dodgy links, etc.)
  • Understanding that Exchanges are not secure and, as such, have become a particular target of crypto thieves
  • Not storing too much in desktop or mobile wallets as these are susceptible to hackers
  • Using a paper wallet (offline wallet). Because they are offline, they are less vulnerable to attacks. There are paper wallet generators to help you to do this
  • Using a hardware wallet. These are more secure than desktop or mobile wallets (hot wallets) and are only accessible with your private key
  • Splitting your wealth into different wallets to reduce the damage should your wallet become vulnerable
  • Being wary of any offers to buy your crypto assets at way over the market price. There are examples of such transactions taking place face-to-face with sellers being coerced into making the transfer without payment. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

How can Hayes Connor Solicitors help?

If you have been a victim of the GateHub cryptocurrency data breach we are here to help – whether or not you are a UK resident.

Our professional, friendly team will be pleased to answer any questions you might have about making a claim against GateHub. We will also go through your options and let you know about our NO WIN, NO FEE agreements.

We understand that making a compensation claim can be stressful; especially where you have already been the victim of a crime. That’s why we make sure you always know what’s happening and remove the jargon from the process.

Our process is fully compliant with data protection requirements, and we never put your details at risk.





staying safe online

An essential guide to staying safe online

Today, most of use the internet to help make our day-to-day lives better. But despite its benefits, the more information we put online, the more likely it is that something will go wrong. In response, TITAN, the North West Regional Organised Crime Unit has created a handy guide about staying safe online.

The guide has the support of www.getsafeonline.org, the UK’s leading source of unbiased, factual and easy-to-understand information on online safety. It contains lots of helpful guidance to protect you and your data from the threat of fraud, identity theft and abuse.

As well as encouraging you to share the booklet with your friends and family, TITAN also suggests that it can be used as a memory-jogger whenever you need a quick reminder.

What does the guide tell us about staying safe online?

Protecting your devices

To ensure you are safeguarded, the booklet suggests that you follow the following ‘golden rules’:

  • Choose, use and protect your passwords carefully
  • Use a different password for every account (if you are worried about remembering them all you could sign up to a password manager)
  • Never share your passwords with anyone
  • Make sure your devices are protected by internet security software
  • Keep internet security software up-to-date
  • Never give away too much personal or financial information
  • Don’t click on any links or attachments unless you are 100% sure you can trust the source
  • Take your time and think twice to keep yourself safe.

Online shopping

Online shopping can be risky business if you are not sure what to look out for. Follow these handy tips to keep your financial information safe:

  • Look for third-party reviews or get recommendations from people you trust to make sure an online retailer is reputable
  • Check that the payment page is secure (is there a padlock in the browser frame and does the page address start with https://)
  • Never pay by bank transfer into a seller’s bank account unless you know and trust them
  • Don’t buy anything online via an unsecured Wi-Fi connection such as a hotspot in a café. Instead, make sure you are connected via your secure Wi-Fi or a 3G/4G connection
  • Know that if you pay by credit card you are afforded greater protection
  • Choose, use and protect your passwords carefully and use a different password for every online shop in case your details get hacked
  • Logout after you’ve finished your shopping session
  • Keep an eye on your bank and credit card statements to see if there is anything you don’t recognise.


Banking fraud is in the rise, so it’s vital that you know how to protect yourself online. For example:

  • Never share any sensitive information about yourself or your accounts, like your PIN or full banking password. Your bank would never ask for this information
  • Never be talked into withdrawing or transferring money for safekeeping
  • Don’t use online banking via an unsecured Wi-Fi connection such as a hotspot in a café. Instead, make sure you are connected via your secure Wi-Fi or a 3G/4G connection
  • Don’t click any links that claim to be from your bank. Always go to your bank’s website by entering its proper address
  • Don’t let friends, family or anyone else borrow your payment cards
  • Keep an eye on your bank and credit card statements to see if there is anything you don’t recognise.

Social media

When it comes to social media, too many of us are still willing to hand over our information without thinking about the consequences. To protect yourself online:

  • Don’t accept friend requests from people you don’t know
  • Don’t be talked into any activity that makes you uncomfortable (e.g. sending images or extremist behaviour)
  • Being careful about what private information you share online – either about yourself or your friends/family
  • Don’t post anything that might offend or embarrass you or someone else. What goes online stays online, and this could cause you problems now and in the future
  • Review your privacy settings regularly
  • Review your contact list regularly
  • Use a different email account to register with the different social media platforms
  • Never post abusive comments that might offend individuals or groups of society. In some cases trolling is a criminal offence
  • Being aware of common phishing techniques and keeping an eye out for fraudsters who attempt to gather additional personal information.

Keeping children safe online

Today’s children are digital natives – and they use technology from a very early age. But we still need to keep them same online. To help do this:

  • Work with children, educating them as they grow about the benefits and risks of the internet
  • Be on hand to answer any questions they might have
  • Put safeguards in place such as parental controls and filters
  • Be digitally aware and informed about the latest apps, platforms etc.
  • Speak to other parents to share information.

Running a business

When you’re running a business, the last thing you want to think about is the possibility of things going wrong. But the right preparation won’t just reduce the likelihood of data breaches occurring; it will also limit the fallout should the worst happen. To help keep your business safe online:

  • Run regular online safety and data protection training for all employees
  • Encourage staff to question anything they are unsure about or which seems irregular
  • Make sure physical access to devices and servers is strictly controlled
  • Introduce an Acceptable Use Policy for mobile devices
  • Carry out regular backups
  • Enforce strict access to company, employee and customer data
  • Have a software policy in place that covers usage, updates, licences, etc.
  • Make sure you safely dispose of hardware and data.

You can find more helpful information about staying safe online at www.getsafeonline.org.

Reporting cybercrime

Action Fraud is the UK’s national reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime.

Victims of online offences such as scams and financial/identity fraud should contact Action Fraud to report their loss. You can do this online or via telephone.

For any other form of cybercrime such as online stalking, harassment, or fears about sexual grooming, you should contact the police directly.

Not just hackers

While the threat of cybercrime is something that everyone needs to take seriously, human error remains the leading cause of breaches. And, these errors (which are just as likely to happen offline) must also be addressed.

At Hayes Connor, our expert solicitors deal with a significant number of data breach cases every day. During our work, we see many different types of claims and understand how data breaches can affect people in different ways.


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

Alternatively, if you have been the victim of a data breach or cyber fraud, find out how we can help you recover any losses or give us a call on 0151 363 5895 to discuss your case in more depth.

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An update on Cybersecurity in the UK

The government has published the results of the Cyber Security Breaches Survey 2019. This looks at how UK organisations approach cybersecurity, and the impact of breaches.

Trends in cybersecurity in the UK in 2019

According to this report:

Cyber-attacks are a persistent threat to businesses and charities

Around a third of businesses and two in ten charities report having cybersecurity breaches or attacks in the last 12 months. Among those organisations facing breaches or attacks, the most common types are:

  • Phishing attacks
  • Others impersonating an organisation in emails or online
  • Viruses, spyware or malware, including ransomware attacks.

For businesses, the proportion identifying breaches or attacks is lower than in 2018. The survey is unclear why this has happened. It could be because companies are generally becoming more cyber secure. However, another possibility is that more attacks are being focused on a narrower (though still numerous) range of businesses. The survey also suggests that some companies may be less willing to admit to having cybersecurity breaches following GDPR.

Where businesses have lost data or assets through cyber security breaches, the financial costs from such incidents have consistently risen since 2017

When looking at cybersecurity in the UK, the report states that among those businesses recording breaches or attacks, in 30% of cases this resulted in a negative outcome (e.g. a loss of data or assets). For charities, this happened 21% of the time.

The average cost to a business which lost money following a cyber-attack was £4,180. This is higher than in 2018 (£3,160) and 2017 (£2,450). However, for larger firms this jumped to £22,700 in 2019. For charities, the average cost was £9,470.

So, the costs of cybersecurity breaches can be substantial. But more than this, the survey also states that: “the indirect costs, long-term costs and intangible costs of breaches – things like lost productivity or reputational damage – tend to be overlooked. This means that, when organisations reflect on their approaches to cybersecurity, they may be undervaluing the true cost and impact of cyber security breaches”.

More businesses and charities than before have taken positive steps to improve their cybersecurity

This is in part linked to the introduction of GDPR. However, while this report found that security is increasingly a priority issue for organisations (78% of business and 75% of charities), it does not appear that actions are reflecting this shift.

In fact, only 30% of businesses and 37% charities have made improvements to their cybersecurity since GDPR.

Of those who have made improvements in a bid to stop cyber-attacks and data breaches:

  • 60% of business and charities have created new policies
  • 15% of businesses and 17% of charities have had extra staff training or communications
  • 6% of businesses and 10% of charities have improved their contingency plans.

However, in more positive news, there are year-on-year improvements in these areas.

There is still more that organisations can do to protect themselves from cyber risks

So, the increasing prioritisation of cybersecurity has not always been matched by increased engagement and action. In fact, according to the findings:

  • Just 35% of businesses and 30% of charities have a board member or trustee with specific responsibility for cyber security
  • Only around 18% of businesses and 14% of charities require their suppliers to adhere to any cyber security standards
  • Just 16% of businesses and 11% of charities have formal cyber security incident management processes in place.

Organisations are open to receiving guidance or checklists. However, they expect such guidance to be pushed out to them

 Today, UK organisations are open to improving their cybersecurity processes, but they still appear to be reluctant to take responsibility for doing this. Just 59% of businesses 47% of charities have sought external information or guidance on cybersecurity in the last 12 months.

You can read the report in full here.

Helping individuals and organisations to become more cyber aware and cyber safe

Hayes Connor Solicitors is a niche firm operating in the data breach sector. We help our clients to claim the compensation they deserve following data protection breaches and other cyber offences such as computer fraud, identity theft, defamation, hacking and phishing scams.

A relatively new and evolving area of law, our specialist solicitors lead our field when it comes to understanding the complexities involved.

We make sure our clients have as much information as possible before claiming so that they feel fully informed at all times. And we provide a wide range of information to help our clients protect themselves once a breach has occurred. We also raise awareness of the growing threat of cybercrime and data breaches, as the more people are aware of the risk, the better-protected everyone will be.

For advice on how to keep your data safe, follow us on Twitter and Facebook. Or, if you have been the victim of a data breach or cyber fraud, contact us to find out how we can help you to recover any losses.


Data breaches are a “time bomb”
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Data breaches are a “time bomb”

Earlier this week, a leading security expert warned that data breaches are a now a “time bomb”. This is because too many companies are putting confidential customer information at risk.

The comments were made to the BBC by Bryan Sartin. Bryan is head of global security service at telecommunications company Verizon. They were made following the publication of a report which analysed thousands of successful cyber-attacks.

The annual Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR) collated information from more than 41,686 security incidents, of which 2,013 were confirmed data breaches that hit large and small organisations all over the world.

Sartin, said he was “surprised” more breaches had not become public and suggested that there are “probably some big situations queuing up right now”.

Key findings

Significant findings of the 2019 report include:

  • 52% of breaches were caused by hacking
  • 33% of breaches were caused by social engineering attacks. This is where people are manipulated into breaking normal security procedures in order for criminals to gain access to systems
  • Cyber thieves are increasingly and proactively targeting C-level executives
  • 71% of breaches were financially motivated
  • 25% of all violations were associated with espionage
  • 29% of breaches involved stolen credentials.
  • 56% of breaches took months, or even longer to discover.

What can we learn from this report?

UK companies that lose data face fines of up to 4% of their global revenues under current data protection law. Organisations are at greater risk of penalties if they delay reporting data breaches. And/or if they are found to have failed to protect personal data or clean up after a breach. So, it’s important that they take the threat of cyber-attacks very seriously.

Speaking about the latest findings, Hayes Connor managing director and data protection heavyweight Kingsley Hayes added his insight on this matter.

He said:

“Unfortunately, reports of a data breach time bomb are not exaggerated. In fact, we’ve been warning organisations about the level of risk they are exposed to since before GDPR.

“Having received thousands of enquiries from customers who have suffered as a direct result of a data breach caused by a cyber attack in the last twelve months alone, it has become clear to us that this is just the tip of the iceberg. And, disturbingly, the response provided by many of these organisations falls short of what we would expect. Businesses must do more to meet their data privacy responsibilities and provide adequate redress where they fail to do so, or risk increased compensation claims.

“But it’s also vital to highlight, that the vast majority of data breaches are not caused by cybercriminals, but by simple human errors and a failure to ensure robust security processes. And every day, these smaller data breaches are causing misery and upset to people across the UK.

“So, when it comes to data breaches, it’s just as important that businesses look at the threat from within, as well as putting measures in place to protect themselves from the bad guys.”

data breach solicitors
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Can you claim compensation for the Police Federation data breach?

Last month, the Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) admitted that it suffered a severe data breach across a number of its databases. This data privacy violation happened as a result of a ransomware cyber-attack. A criminal investigation has now been launched into the Police Federation cyber-attack.

What happened in the Police Federation data breach?

In a Twitter statement, posted on 21st March, the PFEW said: “We can confirm we have been subject to a malware attack on our computer systems. We were alerted by our own security systems on Saturday 9 March. Cyber experts rapidly reacted to isolate the malware and prevent it from spreading.”

The statement also included a press release with more information about the attack. You can read this in full here.

However, people were soon pointing out that the PFEW took 12 days to inform its members about the attack. And the way some members found out was also questioned.


“So this happened on 9th March and it is only now the 21st March that you tell your paying members?? Absolutely disgraceful handling by the federation.”


“I’d rather my OH not be told via a press release, but direct contact from federation! Press releases are for the public not the potential victims”.


“So if the attack was discovered on 9th March, why did it take 12 days to alert everyone? I assume you have reported your data breach to the information commissions office?”


“Members are always last to find out. Why has it taken over 11 days to inform your members…”



What information was exposed in the PFEW data breach?

The names, email addresses, National Insurance numbers, ranks and serving forces of around 120,000 police officers may have been exposed. The breach affects officers at all levels up to the rank of chief inspector.

Also, any guests who stayed at the PFEW conference and hotel facilities in Leatherhead between 1 September 2018 and 9 March 2019 may also have had their financial details (credit card number and expiry date) put at risk.

In addition, the PFEW claims case management system has also been compromised. So any members who requested PFEW assistance for any investigation, inquiry or complaint could have had their name, address, National Insurance number, and bank details accessed.

However, the PFEW claims that there is no evidence at this stage that any data was extracted from PFEW’s systems, although this cannot be discounted.

Local Federation branches have not been affected.

How is the PFEW ransomware attack impacting police systems?

Ransomware is a type of malicious software. Typically cybercriminals use ransomware to threaten to publish the victim’s data, or to block access to it unless a ransom is paid. Ransomware attacks are becoming more widespread.

As a result of this ransomware attack, the PFEW has suffered severe disruption to services. Backup data was also deleted. Indeed, following the breach the PFEW has made the “difficult decision” to cancel its national conference in June. A statement on Twitter read:

“Experts in business recovery estimate it takes 4 – 6 months to recover from a cyber-attack and with annual conference due in 9 weeks it would not be possible to deliver this on time.”

Can you claim compensation for the Police Federation data breach?

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is aware of the situation. However, while it has the power to impose hefty fines on organisations who fail to meet their data protection requirements, the ICO does not award compensation.

But, should the ICO find that the PFEW did not meet its data protection requirements, you could have a claim for compensation.

Indeed, even if there is no immediate evidence that personal and sensitive data was successfully extracted from PFEW systems, that doesn’t mean that there will be no impact on those officers affected. In many data breach cases it can take months for the full implications and losses to become apparent. We have seen instances where the financial losses only start to occur three to six months later. This is often because data stolen is used in batches over time.

What’s more, simply knowing that your details could be in the hands of cybercriminals can lead to anxiety and distress. Experiencing a data breach can result in adverse life events such as having to move house or area, losing a job, relationship stress and separation, and dislocation from friends and family. All of which can lead to a diagnosable psychological injury. For police officers knowing that their personal information could be in the hands of criminals is bound to be even more distressing.

How to make a claim following the Police Federation data breach

At Hayes Connor Solicitors, we are experts in data breach cases. Committed to helping victims of data breaches and cybercrime to achieve the justice they deserve, we are now considering launching a no-win, no-fee group action to compensate victims of the Police Federation cyberattack.

Find out more about group actions.

By now those who have been affected should have been emailed. If you have received this email then you may be able to claim compensation once the matter has been investigated.

To ensure that you are fully informed and kept up-to-date, simply fill in our quick form and we will notify you about the investigation and your legal rights when making a claim.



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Businesses must invest in cyber insurance to protect victims of data breaches

It’s almost impossible to pick up a newspaper or turn on the television without finding out about how some big company has been hacked. But, while it might seem that data breaches are a new and pressing concern, the issue of how to maintain the integrity of information stored on computers is nothing new.

In fact, in a recent article by the Financial Times, the author shares how, as far back as 1979, economist (and former CIA analyst), Mark Skousen published the ‘Complete Guide to Financial Privacy’. In this book, he warned about the relentless collection of information and the need to recognise the need to protect against “unwarranted intrusion into sensitive information”.

Fast forward to today, and as the FT article states, “there is no company or product that doesn’t have cyber risk attached to it.”

The impact of data breaches on business

A data breach can be devastating for victims. And, at Hayes Connor, every day we hear about how privacy violations are causing misery and upset to people across the UK. Crucially, in most cases, these breaches aren’t caused by scammers trying to hack big businesses, but by simple human errors.

But it’s not just victims of data breaches that suffer long-term effects following a cyber problem. Organisations of all types and sizes can also find it difficult to recover.

Here are just some of the possible consequences faced by companies that fail to keep their data safe:

  • Loss of time and money due to having to repair affected systems and disruption to trading
  • Loss of reputational damage and sales (lack of trust from current and potential customers)
  • Loss due to the legal consequences of a data breach (e.g. fines, legal fees and compensation payments)
  • Loss of competitive advantage due to the theft of trade secrets or copyrighted material
  • Having to pay fraudsters (cyber extortion)
  • Rises in insurance premiums.

Worryingly, according to the latest statistics, almost 30 million cyber-related crimes were launched in the last quarter of last year.[1] And nearly half of all UK businesses fell victim to cyberattacks or security breaches[2].

43% of UK organisations surveyed had experienced a cyber security breach or attack in the last 12 months

  2018 Cyber Security Breaches Survey

Standard insurance policies do not cover cyber risk

Despite the rise in cybercrime, many UK organisations are still failing to insure themselves against the threat of a data breach. In fact, according to the article in the FT, only 9% of UK companies are said to have specific cyber insurance. Standard insurance policies do not cover cyber risk.

When it comes to data privacy violations, it is clear the problem isn’t going away. And with prevention better than cure, as well as improving security processes and IT governance, every business, regardless of size or ownership, must now consider cyber insurance. Because if a data breach claim is made against a company, and it is found liable for data privacy errors, the consequences of not being covered could be catastrophic.

The impact on individuals

The introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in May 2018 coincided with a significant increase in reported data breaches. So the GDPR has created greater public awareness about individual rights.

Indeed, at Hayes Connor, we are currently dealing with over 200 enquiries per month from consumers. Complaints range from the inappropriate use of email to the deliberate or inadvertent disclosure of sensitive, financial, and medical information to third parties.

We’ve seen cases where experiencing a data breach has resulted in adverse life events such as having to move house or area, losing a job, relationship stress and separation, and dislocation from friends and family. All of which can lead to a diagnosable psychological injury.

In most of these cases, the victim of the data breach will have tried to engage with the organisation that has committed the violation and been either rebuffed or provided with a wholly inadequate excuse. In almost all cases the organisation at fault fails to recognise the damage caused by the breach and loss.

Often this failure to provide adequate redress to the victims of data breaches comes from fear. Fear that giving proper compensation could put an organisation out of business. But, with the right insurance in place – alongside improved data security processes – both companies and individuals would be better protected.

Leading by example

At Hayes Connor, we want to reduce the number of data violations taking place across the UK. To do this, we are helping to raise awareness of this issue and educating people and businesses to prevent similar mistakes from happening.

For more advice on how to keep your data safe, follow our #notjusthackers campaign on Twitter and Facebook.

Alternatively, if you have been the victim of a data breach or cyber fraud, find out how we can help you to recover any losses or give us a call on 0151 363 5895 to discuss your case in more depth.

[1] Kaspersky

[2] 2018 Cyber Security Breaches Survey

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Banks to pay push payment scam compensation

A number of leading banks have agreed to contribute to a fund for victims of push payment scams.

Push payment scams happen when cybercriminals trick someone into sending them money by pretending to be someone else. Push payment scams saw £148 million lost in the first half of 2018.

Banks that have signed up to the new push payment scam compensation fund include Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds and RBS. Other banks such as Santander and Nationwide, have also made a similar commitment.

Historically, banks have avoided paying push payment scam compensation to victims unless there was a fault in their processes. This is because the customer authorised the payments.

The scheme will be introduced as an interim measure until a permanent solution can be agreed. It is expected that banks will reimburse somewhere between £30million and £40million more in push payment compensation in 2019 as compared to last year.

How to protect yourself from push payment fraud

Action Fraud – the national fraud reporting service – recommends taking the following advice to stay safe:

  • Be suspicious of requests to transfer money by bank transfer or virtual currency instead of safer methods (e.g. credit card or payment services such as PayPal)
  • Trust your instincts. If something feels wrong then it is right to question it
  • Don’t pay for goods or services unless you know and trust the individual or business
  • Be aware that personal information obtained from data breaches is making it easier for cybercriminals to create highly targeted phishing messages and calls
  • Don’t assume a person/organisation is genuine just because they’re able to provide some basic details about you
  • Always be suspicious of unsolicited requests for your personal or financial information.

Also, it’s important to understand that your bank would not:

  • Ask you to share any sensitive information about yourself or your accounts, like your PIN or full banking password
  • Ask you withdraw or transfer money for safekeeping
  • Send someone to your home to collect cash, a PIN, cards or cheque books
  • Try to panic you out of taking security checks.

A win for consumers

Commenting on the new push payment scam compensation fund, a spokesperson at consumer group Which?, said: “This long-awaited move to ensure victims of bank transfer scams are properly reimbursed when neither they nor the bank is at fault is a major victory for consumers.

“The banks must now act to ensure this scheme is implemented swiftly so consumers can have confidence that losing life-changing sums of money to this type of fraud is a thing of the past.”

What can you do if you are the victim of push payment fraud?

If you have been the victim of an attempted push payment scam, you should contact Action Fraud. However, if you have lost money as a result of the scam, you must also report it as a crime. You should also notify your bank ASAP.

At Hayes Connor Solicitors, we want to reduce the number of data violations and successful cyber scams taking place across the UK. To do this, we are raising awareness of this issue and educating people to help stop fraudsters in their tracks.

For more advice on how to keep safe, follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

Alternatively, if you have been the victim of a push payment scam, find out how we can help you to recover any losses or give us a call our office to discuss your case in more depth. We can help you to claim compensation and steer you through the aftermath of a bank or credit card scam – minimising the impact on you as much as possible.

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Financial Services data breaches have risen by 480%

According to recent research[1], UK financial services firms reported a whopping 480% more data breaches in 2018 than in 2017. And, in the sector, retail banking saw the most substantial rise in the number of data breach reports, jumping a staggering 2400%.

But why are we seeing this increase?

Financial data breaches are on the rise

Hacking is now big business and organisations that hold financial data are a particularly lucrative target. For example:

But in many cases, its human error rather than cybercrime that is the biggest cause of financial data breaches. And, these errors are just as likely to happen offline. In a recent case, our solicitors saw the impact of what can happen when a person’s financial information was sent to the wrong address by mistake.

Cybercriminals are becoming increasingly sophisticated

While the majority of attackers are still going after easy “low-hanging fruit” there are signs that cybercriminals are becoming increasingly sophisticated.

For example, AI-assisted imposters are set to become an increased threat. With machine-learning helping to make existing cyber-attack efforts like identity theft, denial-of-service attacks and password cracking faster, more formidable, and more effective.

Furthermore, as we move deeper and deeper into the Internet of Things (IoT), more and more devices and data are going to be connected to the internet. Keeping these safe from hackers is going to be an ongoing challenge.

Self-reporting has increased

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), now requires organisations to report data breaches within 72 hours or face penalties. This is also likely to be a critical factor in the increase of reports. It is also probable that we will continue to see a dramatic increase in data breach reports now that self-reporting is mandatory.

On a positive note, some experts suggest that businesses are getting better at identifying and reporting cyberattacks. And if the financial services industry is now taking cybersecurity more seriously, this can only be a good thing for customers.

Awareness is crucial

At Hayes Connor, we believe that raising awareness of the growing cybersecurity threat will help organisations across the UK improve their data protection processes. But it’s also vital that we all do our bit to protect ourselves as individuals.

When it comes to protecting yourself from financial fraud, UK Finance offers the following advice:

  • Never disclose security details, such as your PIN or full banking password
  • Don’t assume an email, text or phone call is authentic
  • Don’t be rushed – a genuine organisation won’t mind waiting
  • Listen to your instincts – you know if something doesn’t feel right
  • Stay in control – don’t panic and make a decision you’ll regret.

In addition, we would suggest that you also:

  • Keep an eye on your bank and credit card statements to see if there is anything you don’t recognise
  • Make sure you read your credit card statements and other letters that come from your bank

If your identity has been stolen, you should:

  • Contact your bank/credit card provider immediately
  • Consider a credit freeze until the matter is resolved
  • Report the scam to the police and contact Action Fraud for advice on what to do next
  • Let the credit reference agencies know of any activity that was not down to you
  • Register with the Cifas protective registration service. This will slow down credit applications made in your name with additional verification checks made to ascertain that the applicant is actually you.

For more advice on how to keep your data safe, follow us on Twitter and Facebook. Alternatively, if you have been the victim of a data breach or cyber fraud, find out how we can help you to recover any losses or give us a call our helpline number to discuss your case in more depth.


[1] RPC