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University of Essex Data Breach – Hayes Connor Representing Victims

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Personal details of more than 400 University of Essex students have been exposed in a data breach, the university has confirmed in a statement. Hayes Connor is already representing a number of students affected by this breach, so we are well placed to advise anyone else impacted.

The data breach happened on 23 March 2022 when a spreadsheet containing 412 students’ personal information was accidentally included in an email from the university’s facilities management company, which is an external partner of the university. The email was a request for payment for repairs to a broken door at a university accommodation block.

Student data included in the spreadsheet contained the following information:

  • Student IDs
  • Dates of birth
  • Contact details

Hayes Connor Legal Director Christine Sabino considers the breach “particularly worrying”.

Christine said: "The spreadsheet included in this email contained all kinds of crucial data on hundreds of people, so the seriousness of the issue should not be downplayed.

"Through our work, we have seen how breaches of this kind can have a big impact on those affected. It should also be remembered that many of the individuals involved here are young adults living away from home for the first time. Some may be very worried about this or unsure what to do next.

“Individuals we have spoken to are desperate to know how this happened. They are also keen to understand what is being done to prevent more issues in the future.

“When individuals provide data to organisations of any kind, they trust that the information will be handled in a secure and proper manner. Issues like this only serve to undermine that trust, so we are determined to help our clients get the answers they deserve.”

We will represent these students to help them get answers about how the breach happened and what is being done to prevent similar issues in future, as well as exploring the possibility of securing appropriate compensation.

Our team has already spoken to the BBC and the Evening Standard about the University of Essex data breach, reflecting the seriousness of the risk to students.

If you are a University of Essex student affected by this data breach, we will be happy to speak to you and discuss how we can support you with this stressful situation.

To find out how our data breach experts can help you, please get in touch today.

What action is the University of Essex taking over the email data breach?

In a statement, a University of Essex spokesperson said:

"We are taking this issue very seriously and ensuring our delivery partners understand our high expectations about the management of data.

"We've contacted all individuals involved to offer advice and support."

The university will also be required to report the issue to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) under UK data protection law. ICO has the power to recommend improvements in the university’s data handling and that of its external partners, as well as to issue fines where appropriate.

What risks are there to students affected by the University of Essex data breach?

The biggest risk to students is that their details could fall into the hands of cybercriminals. They could potentially use the data to set up accounts in students’ names. The data could also be used to contact students in ‘phishing’ attacks, where cybercriminals use the information they already have to extract additional information from victims, such as their financial details.

If your details have been included in the University of Essex email data breach, you should be extremely cautious about anyone contacting you and requesting that you provide them with personal information.

Cybercriminals might pose as a representative of the university or a third party, so always make sure to independently verify who someone is before giving information. If you are contacted unexpectedly and asked to provide information, it is a good idea to contact the university or organisation in question through the publicly available number on their website.

There are several ways you can reduce the risk of cybercriminals using your personal data against you. For more on this, please read our helpful guide on what to do if your data has been stolen in a data breach.

What to do if you are concerned about the University of Essex email data breach

The University of Essex should have contacted all students affected by the breach. If you believe your details may have been involved and you have not heard from the university, we recommend contacting them yourself as soon as possible to find out if your data was included in the breach.

You should also consider whether you may be entitled to compensation. Any organisation that holds your personal data has a legal duty to keep it safe. If they fail to do so, you may be entitled to claim damages, even if you have not suffered any specific harm. This is something with which the team at Hayes Connor will be happy to help.

How Hayes Connor can help you claim compensation for the University of Essex data breach

Hayes Connor has one of the largest teams of dedicated data breach specialists in the country. We have a wealth of combined expertise in handling data breach claims, so can guide you through all the steps you need to take to bring forward a claim.

We understand how stressful and worrying it can be to have your personal data put at risk. To minimise any additional strain on you, we provide close personal support throughout the claims process, keeping everything as straightforward 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.

To speak to a member of our team about the University of Essex data breach, please do not hesitate to give us a call on 0151 363 5895.