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How long does a data breach claim take?

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Accessing compensation in a timely manner is always an important consideration. Legal Director Richard Forrest explains what the data breach claims process will look like and how long you can expect it to take.

If your data has been compromised, you may be able to make a claim for compensation to help make up for any direct financial losses you may have experienced, as well as to accommodate for the disruption it has caused to your everyday life.

Many people who intend to make a data breach claim understandably want to know how long the process will take and whether anything can be done to speed things up. We take a look at those questions and more in the following article.

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If you require immediate advice regarding a data breach claim from one of our experts, you can call 0330 041 5136 or fill out our online claim form to start the claims process.

What is a data breach?

To summarise, a data breach is an incident where the personal data of an individual, or group of individuals, is accessed or shared by an unauthorised third party. A breach can be the result of criminal activity (such as a ransomware attack) or simple human error.

Businesses and organisations are often at the centre of data breach investigations where they have lost the data of their customers, employees or suppliers. Where a business is responsible for a data breach, they will likely be subject to enforcement action, fines, or other penalties.

How does a data breach occur?

There are a whole range of possible reasons for a data breach taking place. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Unencrypted data: Data which is not encrypted is vulnerable to being intercepted by cybercriminals. End-to-end encryption is strongly advised for businesses handling and transferring data, but is not always used.
  • Accidental breach: While organisations will have various measures in place to protect against a data breach, they are still susceptible to the occasional human error. This could happen after someone clicks on the wrong link or sends an email to the wrong person.
  • Ransome or malware: Ransomware or malware is often used by cybercriminals to gain access to company systems.
  • Weak access controls: Businesses who do not have sufficient access controls in place, such as multifactor authentication, are more at risk of a cyber attack.
  • Phishing: This is where a cyber criminal attempts to trick someone into revealing sensitive data by posing as a legitimate business or a trusted individual.
  • Distributed denial of service: DDoS attacks create a diversion and, while security administrators are distracted, cybercriminals attempt to access sensitive data.

What is the process following a data breach?

According to UK GDPR laws, organisations are required to report a data breach to the relevant authorities, such as the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) within 72 hours of becoming aware. If the breach has the potential to negatively impact the freedoms and rights of an individual, they must be informed right away. This is often true of many data breaches, particularly those that involve customer and/or employee data.

After a data breach occurs, the responsible business will also be required to keep a detailed record.

The business will often instruct cyber experts to secure the breach and conduct an internal investigation into how the incident occurred. Meanwhile, the authorities, including the Information Commissioner’s Office will usually conduct their own investigations before deciding whether to take action against the business, such as handing out a fine.

How long does the data breach process typically take?

Once the ICO have been informed about a data breach, the incident will go into a list of active cases that are due to be investigated. If they suspect that a GDPR violation has played its part in the breach, they will then launch a full-scale investigation.

The time it takes for this investigation will be heavily dependent on a number of factors. They can often take several months to complete as there is likely to be plenty of back in forth between various parties. In some cases, a criminal investigation may also be launched, which can extend the time it takes even further.

The ICO are likely to prioritise the case if it involves a serious breach affecting a large number of victims, or it is likely to attract significant media attention.

Is there any way to speed up the data breach process?

Unfortunately, there is not much that can be done to speed up the investigation process. However, you could make a complaint directly to the ICO if the organisation responsible for breaching your data has not self-reported.

When making a complaint to instigate the data breach process, you can provide various pieces of evidence which should help to streamline the process.

Can I make a claim for data breach compensation during this time?

Yes. If an organisation is responsible for a data breach which has led to your information being compromised, you can launch a claim for compensation while the investigation is still ongoing. This is regardless of whether you have suffered direct harm as a result of the stolen or lost data.

If a mistake was made by the organisation, or their security measures were not sufficiently robust, the responsible party can be held accountable.

To help you establish whether you will be able to make a valid data breach compensation claim, our data breach solicitors at Hayes Connor will be able to support you. We can meet with you to discuss your situation and the impact that having your data exposed has had on your life.

If our team agree that you will have grounds to make a claim, we can take you through the next steps and advise you on the level of compensation you may be entitled to make a claim for.

How long does it take to make a data breach claim?

The time it takes to make a claim for data breach compensation will depend on the circumstances and whether it is possible to reach a settlement out of court.

A claim for data breach compensation could take anywhere from a few months to a few years to resolve. If the surrounding circumstances are relatively clear cut and the organisation accepts a settlement, you can expect the process to proceed much faster. It will likely take longer where it is necessary to engage in negotiations regarding the level of compensation, or where court proceedings are required.

What are the time limits for making a data breach claim?

The current period for making a claim for data breach compensation is six years from the date of the breach or one year where it involves a breach of human rights.

How Hayes Connor can help with data breach claims

If your information has been exposed in a data breach, our expert solicitors may be able to support you in making a claim for compensation. We can act for clients on a no win, no fee basis, removing the financial risk from making a data breach claim.

At Hayes Connor, we are one of the largest teams of data breach claims specialists in the country, with decades of combined experience in supporting victims of data breaches in various sectors. When instructed, we can advise you on whether you are likely to have grounds to make a claim, the level of compensation you may be entitled to and what steps need to be taken.

Our aim is to make sure that anyone who is affected by a data breach is able to access the compensation they deserve, while also making the process as straightforward and stress-free as possible.

You can find out more about our expertise and how we handle data breach claims here.

To start a claim, you can use our online claim form and we will get back to you shortly to let you know if we believe you have grounds for compensation.

If you would like to speak to a member of our team, please do not hesitate to give us a call on 0330 041 5138.