The majority of data violations are entirely avoidable says data protection specialist


Hayes Connor SolicitorsBy Legal Futures’ Associate Hayes Connor Solicitors

Cybercrime and data breaches are now commonplace with both private and public sector organisations failing in their data protection duties. Preventable human error, rather than cyber criminals, is behind the vast majority according to data breach and cyber security specialist Hayes Connor Solicitors.

In a bid to reduce the number of data violations, the North West based firm is running its #notjusthackers campaign to raise awareness of the devastating effects that a data breach has on individuals by highlighting examples of some of the cases it runs.

Kingsley Hayes, managing director at data breach and cyber security specialist Hayes Connor Solicitors, said: “Only this week news of a teenage cancer patient’s personal details being sent to her estranged father in error by a hospital has hit the headlines. This was not caused by a cyber attack but purely through human error and could have been prevented had the hospital ensured that it held correct, and up-to-date, contact details.

“The personal distress caused to the family in an already difficult situation is immeasurable. Our campaign seeks to encourage organisations to take all the required measures in order to comply with data protection duties to avoid these situations from occurring.

“Another case that we are aware of involved a man’s medical records being sent to his ex-wife by mistake by the HM Courts and Tribunal Services. The records detailed his depression and suicidal thoughts and this was wrongfully used against him to limit access to his children.

“These are real examples of how far a data breach can devastate someone’s life, both on a psychological and financial level. This is also not limited to the affected individual but can impact whole families in some instances.”

One of Hayes Connor Solicitors’ recent clients suffered a serious data breach when her solicitor left copies of confidential medical and service records on a train.

The effect on her has been devastating with anxiety that is so severe as to warrant medication being prescribed. She became fearful of leaving her house and has subsequently been demoted as a result and she has suffered a substantial pay cut in addition to the distress already caused.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) provides a useful data protection self-assessment toolkit aimed at SMEs in the private, public and third sectors to help businesses check that they are compliant.

Kingsley Hayes continued: “Putting measures in place to ensure that all the personal information held by an organisation remains adequately protected not only prevents significant psychological and financial harm to customers, members or users, but also promotes trust in a business and enhances its reputation.

“Organisations need to have a full audit of the personal information held, where it has come from and how it will be used. The flow of information, consent for holding and processing that information and identifying whether it can have, and use, this data lawfully are just some of the measures that need to be considered.”

For more information on the Hayes Connor Solicitors #notjusthackers campaign visit the website at www.hayesconnor.co.uk

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