Types of educational data breaches we can assist with
Examples of educational data breaches investigated by the ICO include where:
- A former headteacher who obtained personal information about school children was prosecuted and fined
- A primary school mistakenly sent a confidential letter discussing the redundancy of a member of staff to parents. The email included the staff member’s name and home address
- The same primary school accidentally sent a list of children entitled to free Christmas lunches to every parent
- Tens of thousands of examiners had their personal details hacked after the exam board AQA was victim to a cyber-attack.
We can make educational data breach claims against:
- Exam boards
Making an educational data breach claim
Are you owed compensation for an educational data breach?
You can make an educational data breach claim if an organisation has failed to protect your personal data – regardless of whether or not you have suffered as a result of the breach. However, where you have experienced financial, medical harm, anguish or anxiety after a school has leaked personal data about children, or yourself, we can make a more significant case.
Cybercriminals are becoming more and more sophisticated. But this doesn’t let schools off the hook. If they have done everything in their power to protect your data, it is unlikely that a claim would be successful. However, if they do not have robust security processes and procedures in place, which has resulted in a school data breach, they must be held accountable.
This is why we usually wait for the results of an investigation by the ICO before starting a claim.
But in most cases, educational data breaches happen because of human error and a failure to implement adequate security processes, and these errors are just as likely to happen offline as online.
Crucially, if an educational organisation has failed to protect your personal data, you have a right to claim compensation. Even if you haven’t suffered as a result.
How to start an education data breach claim
Our professional, friendly team will advise you on whether you have a valid claim against a school, college, university or another childcare service. If you are not sure whether your sensitive information has been misused or mishandled, we can find this out for you.
Once we establish that you have grounds for educational data breach compensation, we will take care of the whole claims process for you.
Our team will contact the education provider you hold responsible for failing to protect your or your child’s data. Where we believe you were let down by their security processes, we will work tirelessly to get you the compensation you deserve.
To get the claims process started, you can use our simple and secure online claim form to share the details of your situation, and we will get back to you shortly to let you know whether we can help.
To speak to a member of our team now about what to do if you have been a victim of an educational data breach, please call us on 0330 041 5137.
What compensation can you get for an educational data breach?
An educational data breach can lead to financial and identity theft, and the result of either of these can be devastating. With enough information, cybercriminals can apply for credit in your name, set up fraudulent bank accounts and access your existing accounts.
This often happens after personal data about schools and children is leaked on the dark web.
Even if you haven’t lost out financially after an educational data breach, this doesn’t mean that there is no harm done. A personal data breach is a 21st-century version of being burgled. If a criminal came into your home and stole your private information, you would be distressed. So why should you feel any less upset at having your or your child’s data taken?
Being the victim of a crime such as a student data breach can have a significant impact on you mentally and physically. Everyone reacts differently, but 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.
The full impact of an educational data breach is not always immediate
Dealing with many different types of childcare and education data breach cases, we know that the full impact is often not felt until months after the initial violation.
In particular, where personal records are accessed, we’ve seen cases where experiencing school data breaches has resulted in adverse life events. This includes 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, and this often happens months after the initial breach.
Making an educational data breach claim after ICO investigation
Schools must establish robust procedures for detecting, reporting, and investigating any personal data breaches, and the ICO must be notified of these violations without undue delay.
In addition, all personal information must be kept safe with security measures that are appropriate to the data held. This includes implementing strong passwords, encrypting electronic data, and making sure data is correctly destroyed. Failing to follow these procedures increases the likelihood of data protection being breached in schools.
Under the GDPR, organisations MUST tell you if they have breached your personal data. But despite this, too often, people still don’t know that their data has been breached until they hear that the ICO has fined a school. In such cases, it’s worth finding out whether your data was put at risk because, if so, you may have a claim.
Where a school fails in these obligations, we can help you make a claim. We can also keep you updated on upcoming and current school data breach claim investigations.
Should you make a school data breach claim?
Nobody wants to sue their child’s school. Teachers do a great job under challenging circumstances. But the sheer scale of information we share is enough to leave us all open to the threat of fraud, anxiety and stress. So, it’s no surprise that we are worried about what could happen if this data gets into the wrong hands.
In our digital age, all personal information has value. And, when that private data is compromised, individuals have a right to compensation, whether or not they have suffered actual, or potential, financial loss or psychological injury.
Furthermore, most school data breaches in the UK aren’t caused by scammers trying to hack schools and colleges but by simple human errors. Something has to be done to make the organisations found lacking accountability for the harm they have helped cause.
So, claiming compensation isn’t just in your best interests – it can also help persuade schools to take their responsibilities seriously and make necessary improvements.
School data breaches explained
Can you sue a school for a data breach?
If a school or other educational body has failed to protect your personal data, you can bring a data breach claim against them if you have suffered as a result of the breach.
Recital 85 of the UK General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) explains that a range of adverse effects on individuals, which include emotional distress, and physical and material damage, are grounds for claiming a data breach.
What is a common example of a data breach in schools?
Some of the most common examples of school data breaches include:
- A school sending personal data to the wrong person via a letter, email or any other form of communication
- Revealing a student’s sensitive medical information to members of their class that might lead to bullying or discrimination
- A cybersecurity breach where payroll information has been taken that could lead to financial loss or identity fraud
- The disclosure of social security information to members of a student’s family which has the potential to cause damage to their relationships
- Unauthorised staff members gaining access to filing cabinets that contain sensitive student information
How long does a school have to report a data breach?
Under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the school’s Education Data Protection Officer (EDPO) has a maximum of 72 hours to report a data breach to the Information Commissioners Office (ICO).
Failure to report the data breach can lead to the school being sanctioned or fined by the ICO for failing to comply with the GDPR data-protection requirements.
Who should data breaches be reported to in schools?
If you believe your data, or that of your child, has been breached by their school, you should attempt to resolve it with the school first. Inform them of the breach, explain how it has affected you and/or your child and request that they launch an investigation.
At that point, if the school has not launched an investigation or are taking a long time to produce results, you could raise a formal case with the Information Commissioners Office as the longer you wait, the less likely they are to investigate your claim.
There is a chance that nothing could come from this investigation, in which case you could seek legal advice from specialist school data breach solicitors who can help you make a claim for compensation.
What is the biggest cause of data breaches in schools?
When a data breach is disclosed, schools and other organisations don’t always report on its cause. However, of those that have been reported, ransomware was found to be the most common cause of data breaches in schools, accounting for a quarter of all reported cases.
Ransomware attacks are common across all industries and are usually carried out through the planting of malware in phishing emails.
Start your educational data breach claim today
At Hayes Connor Solicitors, we help you to claim compensation and steer you through the aftermath of an educational data breach – minimising the impact on you as much as possible.
With strict time limits in place for making educational data breach claims, it’s important to act now to make sure you don’t miss out on your right to claim.