Tag Archives: ico

RSPCA and British Heart Foundation Fined

CHARITY FINED.jpg

So it’s getting closer and closer to Christmas – a time for giving, with more and more charity adverts on the TV, on the radio, on social media – in fact  pretty much everywhere you look. Although Christmas can be a bit tight on the purse strings thousands of people still give to their favourite charities.

Whether you’re helping children, refugees, animals or cancer or medical research, these organisations all promote that the money goes to a good cause. Unless this ‘good cause’ is to pay an ICO fine…?

Two of the major charities we all know and love are the RSPCA and the British Heart Foundation. And both have been under investigation for secretly screening its donors aiming to target those with more money. This process is known as “wealth-screening”.

The two organisations hired wealth management companies who pieced together information on its donors from publicly available sources to build data on their income, property value and even friendship circles. This allowed for a massive pool of donor data to be created and sold.

The RSPCA and BHF were part of a scheme called Reciprocate where they could share and swap data with other charities to find prospective donors. Donors to both charities were given an opt-out option.

Information included in the scheme was people’s names, addresses, date of birth and the value and date of their last donation. The ICO ruled that the charities didn’t provide a clear enough explanation to allow consumers to make an educated decision what it was they were signing up for, and therefore ruled that they had therefore not given their consent.

The RSPCA has admitted that it was not aware of the actual charities with whom they were sharing their data.  It also became clear that the charity shared data of those donors who had opted out.

The BHF insists it had all the correct permissions. However the ICO disagrees on the basis that the charities with whom they were sharing the data were not for similar causes.

The ICO has fined the RSPCA £25,000 and the British Heart Foundation £18,000. Ironically the BJF was praised on its data handling by the ICO in June this year, and it is likely to appeal the fine.

In my opinion I feel the whole thing is a mess. I like to give to charity when I can, which if I’m honest, isn’t as frequent as I’d like.

However when you hear of debacles like this, it really does put you off. I want my money to go to a good cause. I don’t want my data being shared without my knowledge so that other charities can investigate how much I earn, whether I own my property and what social circles I move in, and then decide whether I’m worth targeting. Surely these charities should be thankful for every single donation. The widow’s mite springs to mind.

I feel for the poor animals and souls that rely on these charities, who are I’m sure going to take a hit from these fines. It’s not their fault, yet no doubt it’s them that’s going to pay the price.

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Written by Charlotte Seymour, 8th December 2016.

National Lottery customers hacked. But who handed over the key?

master-key

Another day … another hack. Such events are inescapably becoming almost daily news. The endless catalogue of everyday cyber crime, ranging from hacking, ransom attacks, bullying, breaches, theft and fraud, simply underlines that any crime that can be committed in our physical world can – and is – equally being perpetrated in cyber space.

Given that such attacks and breaches are making the headlines almost daily, it baffles me that companies and customers (that’s us by the way) don’t make a greater effort to protect themselves.

Camelot, The National Lottery’s operator, discovered this latest breach on Sunday and went public on Wednesday morning. Camelot says that only 26,500 of the 9.5 million registered user accounts were compromised, and that there has only been activity on just under 50 of the infiltrated accounts. They have confirmed that no money has been removed or added to any of these accounts and that the National Lottery does not hold full debit card or bank account details. The Information Commissioner’s Office says it has launched an investigation.

Camelot insists that the reason for the compromised accounts is because users have been operating the same password for multiple websites. (Sound familiar? Last week’s Deliveroo breach comes to mind).

Quite properly when we hear of a data breach we turn the spotlight onto the companies that we deal with, who are in charge of protecting our information. But it would be no bad thing for us to point the spotlight at ourselves as the other half of the equation. As consumers, we have to take responsibility too.

We have all repeatedly been advised – and frankly, must surely know by now –  it is vital that a different password is used for every website. For as long as we fail to take this basic precaution, these breaches will be possible.  It would seem that we’re no or slow learners.

I don’t know about you, but I have more accounts than I care to think about. A password including capital letters, symbols and numbers is difficult enough to remember for just one account. However with hacks happening more and more frequently it’s made me pull up my socks and change all of my passwords.

I choose not to have my phone or computer store my passwords, because if either device is stolen (or lost) someone will have all my information in the palm of their hand.

It’s time we all realised how vitally important it is to have safe and secure and different passwords for every account we have, especially when cyber criminals are getting wiser and more sophisticated by the minute. A password is a key. So using just one password to access all your websites means that you are effectively handing criminals the master key to all your online activity.

Hint – A password with 12 characters including a few bits and pieces can take over 2 centuries to crack … that’s the one for me!

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Written by Charlotte Seymour, 30th November 2016

Data Compliant’s Weekly Round Up

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This week has been a bit hectic when it comes to data breaches and news. We started off with Snoopers’ Charter being passed, then we heard that Deliveroo had been hacked and many of its customers had been paying for someone else’s dinner after passwords were stolen from another business.

We heard of yet another colossal hack – mobile network Three had been infiltrated by 3 hackers dotted all over the country now putting two thirds of the 9,000,000 Three customers at risk. The hackers accessed the upgrade system using an employee log in and were able to intercept the new phones before they reached the customers that the hackers had upgraded. Could this be an insider threat? Although Three can confirm no financial data was appropriated the information that was obtainable were things like names, telephone numbers, addresses and date of birth all of which is classed as personal data in accordance with the Data Protection Act. It’s all very handy data for criminals to steal someone’s identity.

Police are investigating Broxtowe Borough Council after an email containing allegations about someone’s conduct was sent to all staff members (730 people in total) in which they were told about in September. The ICO have said they are not going to take any action.

Hatchimals
Hatchimals are the latest craze with the kids these days and I bet they’re on everyone’s Christmas wish list. For those who don’t know what Hatchimals are, they’re Furby-like toys inside an egg that the child has to nurture until it hatches. Once hatched the toy will learn how to speak from it’s owner – so I’m told by my overly eager nephew. However due to these toys being so popular, scammers are out in force and are taking to social media to encourage loving parents to hand over more than double what these toys are going for. Once the scammers have got the money, the parents are then blocked and never hear from them again. Sometimes over £100 worse off. These toys are out of stock in every retailer that sells children’s toys in the UK so if there is an ad online, on social media, or in an email saying they’re still available and better yet – they’re on sale, don’t be fooled, if it’s too good to be true, it usually is.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday
I would imagine due to it being Black Friday this Friday (25th November) and cyber Monday on the 28th fake adverts and phishing emails are going to be on the rise this week and most of next week too. Although it is sad to think that hackers take to this time of year to steal from loving friends and family to earn themselves a bit of extra money, it does unfortunately happen every year. Now some of these hacks are easy to spot, it just takes a bit of common sense, however they are also getting more and more sophisticated and harder to recognise.

Last year UK consumers spent £2 billion in 24 hours online and in stores on Black Friday and £3.3billion over the whole weekend. Predictions this year are even higher than the last. So if you’re anything like me and are planning to get home from work, make yourself a cup of tea, put your feet up and do your Black Friday shopping online, here are some hints and tips for you to stay safe this weekend.

  • Make sure the websites you are visiting have https: at the front of the URL. The s actually stands for secure! Who knew?
  • If you receive any emails from your bank, paypal or anything asking you to confirm your payment details with a link to click on to do so, hover your mouse over the link to see what the URL is, if it isn’t the company’s name .com/.co.uk etc it’s a scam.
  • Look at the email address you receive an email from, is that the company’s name?
  • Use strong passwords, and different passwords for each log in (this is how many people got stung with Deliveroo as they used the same password for their account with them and with other websites and apps).
  • Read the websites privacy policy before handing over all of your sensitive information. These are legally binding and have to inform you of what the company plans to do with your data.

I could go on and on but these main 5 steps should keep you fairly safe this weekend. Don’t be put off by the minority of people who do wish to scam you into handing over all of your money. There are some good people (and even better bargains) out there, so happy shopping!

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Written by Charlotte Seymour – 25th November 2016.

Insider Threats – Charlotte’s View

Insider Threats – Charlotte’s View

Something that is being spoken about more and more (due to the unfortunate higher frequency) is insider threat. It’s in the news an awful lot more than it ever used to be.

Do you remember the auditor of Morrisons who released a spreadsheet detailing just shy of 100,000 members of staff’s (very) personal details? He did end up getting jailed for 8 years but I heard a saying recently, it’s not a digital footprint you leave it’s more of a digital tattoo. Even two years after the incident Morrisons is still suffering the effects.

Now obviously that was what you would call a malicious breach. It does unfortunately happen, but there are ways for you to protect your company against this. Firstly we here at Data Compliant believe that if you have detailed joiner processes in place (i.e. thorough screening and references and criminal checks where appropriate), ongoing appraisals with staff and good leaver processes you can minimise your risk.

Other ways of insider breaches occurring, and much more likely in my opinion, are negligence, carelessness and genuine accidents. Did you know that over 50% of data breaches are cause by staff error? This may be because staff do not follow company procedures correctly and open up pathways for hackers. Or it could be that your staff are tricked into handing over information that they shouldn’t.

Your staff could be your company’s weakest point in relation to protecting it’s personal and confidential data. But you can take simple steps to minimise this risk by training your staff in data protection.

Online training has some big advantages for businesses, it’s a quick, efficient and relatively inexpensive way of training large numbers of employees while “taking them out of the business” for the least possible time.

The risk of breaches isn’t just your business’ reputation, or even a hefty fine from the ICO but as mentioned before, also a criminal conviction. Now that is a lot to risk.

If you’re interested in online training have a look at this video.

 

charlotte

Written by Charlotte Seymour, November 2016

 

Data Protection and the ICO

Data privacy

Data Protection Complaints 2013 – 2014

Yesterday I read that the Information Commissioner’s Office handled 259,903 calls to its helpline and has resolved 15,492 data protection complaints last year. This is an increase of 10% over the previous year.  And here’s another staggering figure – the ICO received 161,720 reports from people about spam texts and nuisance calls.

Half the total complaints received related to “subject access”, with a range of organisations about whom complaints were made, including lenders, local government, educational providers and local health providers.

The importance of data protection in business

Organisations and businesses can no longer ignore the importance of data protection governance, compliance and security – they now have no choice but to understand and meet their regulatory requirements to avoid the penalties of non-compliance.  Last year’s attitude to and handling of ‘subject access requests’ is a perfect illustration of the current complacency seen among some data users.

The sheer volume of personal data being collected physically and digitally every day is multiplying at an extraordinary rate and organisations are continuing to find ever more complicated ways of using data.  Use of big data continues to develop with organisations trying to navigate their way through woefully outdated legislation.

The importance of the ICO

As a result, the data protection challenges to business, the consumer and the ICO are spiralling. It’s increasingly important for the data subject to know that a strong, independent body – which means the ICO – can be trusted to keep watch and offer protection.

With this increase in volume and demand, it’s hardly surprising that the ICO is calling for greater powers, greater independence, and additional funding.

Funding is a particularly difficult area as the EU data protection reforms currently propose the removal of the notification requirement and accompanying fees that fund the ICO’s DPA work. Lack of funding will inevitably give rise to cuts in the services provided by the ICO – for example, it has no legal obligation to provide a helpline, and reduced funding makes it unlikely to be able to continue to handle its current – let alone future – volumes of calls a year.

So it’s absolutely vital not only to individuals but also to businesses, organisations, government and the ICO itself that necessary resource, funding, independence and evolving powers are provided to allow the Information Commissioner to continue to protect, update and enforce data protection legislation.

ICO’s internal data security breach

However, it is somewhat unfortunate that at the time the ICO is asking for greater funding, independence and stronger powers, they are also admitting to their own “non-trivial” data breach. The incident was treated as a self-reported breach and was apparently investigated and treated no differently from similar incidents reported to the ICO by others. After an internal investigation the ICO concluded that the likelihood of damage or distress to any affected data subjects was low, and that it did not amount to a serious breach of the Data Protection Act. A full investigation was carried out with recommendations made and adopted.

However, later information suggests that this breach is now linked to a criminal investigation. So the breach investigation has not, seemingly, been closed.

Data Compliant

Services

If you have any concerns over data protection compliance or security, don’t hesitate to get in touch – call 01787 277742 or email victoria@datacompliant.co.uk

 

 

Data Compliance – Monthly Round-Up

September 2013 Round-up

Information Commissioner toughens up Direct Marketing Guidelines

data compliance consentThis month the ICO has published new guidelines for direct marketers, with a particular emphasis on consent.  Those companies who make it difficult for their customers to find the “small print” run the risk of finding their so-called consent is invalid.  Essentially the ICO is looking to tighten up current consent policies, by, for example, putting tighter time limits on the period covered by consent, ensuring that the customer is not forced into consenting as part of any service policy.  Users of personal data are going to need to get used to a greater transparency and trust between themselves and their customers.  It is likely that a more creative approach to obtaining consent will be required – such as an explanation of the benefits designed to appeal to the consumer.

Third party use of data is going to become increasingly difficult too, with the onus put on the user for evidence that consent really has been given to the list provider (see Steve’s article on email marketing success).

If you are concerned that you are not entirely certain what is needed to keep your future campaigns compliant, then contact Victoria – victoria@tuffillverner.co.uk

Unsolicited direct marketing calls – the penalties

telemarketingThe Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is clamping down on businesses who make unsolicited direct marketing calls.  The law currently requires the ICO to prove that calls or texts are causing substantial damage or substantial distress before issuing a penalty to the perpetrator.  The ICO is now asking the government to reduce the degree of harm that needs to be proven – the aim is that an investigation would have to simply prove annoyance or nuisance before acting.

The ICO routinely collects data from complaints both to their own office and to TPS, which helps identify organisations who may cause concern.

As a result of that activity, in the first quarter of 2013, the ICO issued their first fine for making unsolicited live marketing calls.  DM Design, was fined £90,000.  In the last quarter the ICO has issued two further monetary penalty notices for making unsolicited calls – against Nationwide Energy Services (£125,000 penalty) and We Claim you Gain (£100,000 penalty) – not insubstantial amounts.

The main topics of cold marketing calls are still PPI, then Energy / Green energy and Accident claims.  These are closely followed by debt management.

Automated calls can be made from outside the UK, in which case the steps to be taken against those companies making the calls are obviously limited.

It is clear that the ICO is determined to make it very plain to all companies and organisations using (or selling) data for marketing purposes, that they must follow the law.

They select a number of companies for monitoring based on the complaints they – and TPS receive. They then review the complaints levels – and it’s amazing what a little fear can do to make even quite large companies adjust their thinking in this area.  For example, Talk Talk saw a massive 75% reduction in complaints in the nine months of monitoring; British Gas a 59% reduction in complaints over the same period; while Scottish Power complaints were reduced by 30%.

If you have any concerns over how to ensure your telemarketing is compliant, please contact Victoria – victoria@tuffillverner.co.uk

Encryption: do you understand the  options available and how you can use them?

data protection encryptionThe Data Protection Act requires organisations that are storing personal information electronically to have appropriate measures in place to keep the information secure. If the loss of this information would cause damage and distress to those affected then the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) expect the information to be encrypted.

If it isn’t, then an organisation is not keeping the information secure and leaving themselves open to possible enforcement action. Penalties totalling £700,000 have so far been issued to organisations who have failed to properly encrypt their data.

So it’s definitely worth looking at the different types of encryption available and making them work for your organisation.  If you are thinking about the need for encryption but don’t fully understand the different options available to you, then do contact Tony at tony@tuffillverner.co.uk

Subject access requests – failure to comply can be costly

Keyboard -  blue key AccessFollowing the publication last month of the Subject Access Code of Practice, the handling of subject access requests is becoming increasingly important.  After a complaint from a member of the public, action has been taken against Cardiff City Council systemic failures leading to the inability for the council to respond to individuals’ subject access requests within the 40 day time limit.

So it’s worth noting the importance of tightening up procedures and making sure staff are properly trained to handle such requests in compliance with the DPA.

If you are unclear of your obligations and would like advice on the matter, do contact michelle@tuffillverner.co.uk

Do your employees work from home?  Or use a smartphone?

istock multi media croppedIt is well worth reviewing the measures you have in place to make sure personal information being accessed and used by home workers is being kept secure.  It is now becoming increasingly popular for individuals to work from home, and to access data via tablets and smartphones.

Aberdeen City Council has just been served with a penalty of £100,000 after sensitive personal information relating to the care of vulnerable children was inadvertently posted online by one of their home workers. The information was freely available for a three-month period before a council employee spotted it and the information was taken down.

An investigation found that the council had no means of monitoring how personal information was being accessed and used by their home workers and, worse yet, provided no guidance to help people working from home keep personal information secure.

So do make sure you follow the guidelines, especially if your employees are using smartphones and other personal devices to access personal data outside the office.  If you’d like some information on the sorts of measures you should be taking, please contact Michelle – michelle@tuffillverner.co.uk

New teaching materials will help young people to take control of their information

Great news that the ICO has published new teaching materials for schools to help teachers explain to young people the importance of looking after their personal information.  Especially since a 2011 survey showed that, although 9 out of 10 secondary school pupils were using a social networking website, 60% paid no attention to that website’s privacy policy.

The educational material has been developed by teachers and tailored to specific areas of the curriculum with a focus on helping youngsters understand the value and importance of their personal information and teaching them how they can look after it.

No surprise after Leveson consultation that the Press is deemed to need further guidance on conduct and ethics

Last year’s Leveson Inquiry provided a number of recommendations relating to the conduct and ethics of the press. The most high-profile recommendation for the ICO office was that it should better educate the press about their legal obligations under the DPA.

A consultation was launched in March to find out stakeholder’s views on a potential code of practice to explain the law as it stands. Responses were received from several media companies, individuals, regulators and representative bodies. The responses have raised concerns that any new code of practice would cause confusion with the existing editor’s code!

Tuffill Verner Associates provides data compliance advice – if you have any concerns or are unclear on a particular issue, just drop us an email or give us a call.

victoria@tuffillverner.co.uk   01787 277742 / 07967 148398

michelle@tuffillverner.co.uk   01206 392909 / 07760 257427

Data Protection – Security Basics

iStock_000019241383SmallData Security

This article has been written to help companies, particularly SMEs, understand the significance and importance of strong data security and excellent staff training, specifically in relation to data protection compliance within their own businesses when dealing with personal and sensitive data.

Apart from the obvious necessity to keep your premises physically secure, and shred any confidential paperwork, there are four main areas covered by this article:

  1. Computer Security
  2. Encryption
  3. Emails
  4. Staff Training

Computer security

Protecting your computers and computer networks includes a number of steps, which can be relatively simple and straightforward to implement.  As is often the way, anything is simple if you know what to do and how to do it.  For example, simple security steps include:

  • Protection  Installing firewalls and virus-checking tools
  • Updates Keeping the operating system updated automatically ongoing
  • Security updates Staying aware of the latest security patches and updates, and downloading when available
  • Anti-spyware   Consider installing anti-spyware tools (to prevent hostile individuals from monitoring your computer activity, and from making malicious attacks against you.
  • Back-ups are an essential part of computer hygiene – regular backups should be taken and kept separately so that if your computers are lost, you still have the information available.
  • Disposal  When you get rid of a computer, it is vital to ensure that all personal information before you move it on.  I always remove the hard drive, and smash it into small pieces – which is probably overkill, but it works for me!  There are other “technical” solutions, but I prefer to  destroy the hard drive and know that it’s gone for ever.
  • Spam filters  Ensure that you either have spam filters on your computers or that you use an email provider that offers this service.

Encryption

If sensitive personal information is stolen or lost, it is highly likely to cause damage or distress.  To minimise the risk of disclosure, any such personal information really should be encrypted.  The truth is that login usernames and passwords offer only minimal protection – absolutely not enough to protect against illegal – or simply unauthorised – access. It is also worth remembering that enormous volumes of data can now be stored on tiny devices from memory sticks to smartphones.

Encryption can be a tricky area, so if you are uncertain of how encryption works, or the strengths and weaknesses of various types of encryption, Tony Schiffman can provide useful advice on how to keep your information secure.    Just drop him a line at tony@datacompliant.co.uk

email security

Writing, sending and receiving emails is now taken for granted as just a part of everyday life.  This may be why there are so many varied opportunities for error and carelessness. Some of the most common issues are summarised below:

  • if the contents of an email are sensitive, the email should be encrypted or password protected.
  • when you start to type in the name of the recipient, your software may automatically suggest similar addresses which you have used before. For example, I have a few Johns in my address book whom I email regularly. Each time, the auto-complete function offers me several Johns and I have to force myself to remember to check that I have picked up the right address before clicking “send”.
  • Group email addresses are a useful tool, but it is always worth double-checking who is included within the group and be certain that you eliminate anybody who should not receive your message.
  • If you want to copy someone on an email, but don’t want to share their email address, use the bcc function rather than the cc.  When you use cc, all recipients will be able to see he email addresses of all other recipients to whom the email was sent.

Interesting (if irrelevant) note –we still use the term cc, which stands for carbon copy – going back to the days of typewriters when a sheet of coated carbon paper was placed between two or more sheets of paper. The pressure of the typewriter keys on the carbon papers would cause the ink to be transferred to the additional sheet(s) of paper, thus providing carbon copies.  Bcc, of course, stands for blind carbon copy.

  • When sending a sensitive email from a secure server to a recipient whose server is insecure, the security of that email will be jeopardised.  Always check the security of your recipient’s server / provider before sending your message.
  • Use spam filters on your computers, or use an email provider that offers spam filtering services.

Staff Training

Training your staff to keep data secure is also vital.  Staff can be held responsible for data compliance breaches and may sue their company if they have not been given essential training.

Did you know that your staff can be prosecuted if they deliberately give out personal details without permission?  So it’s essential that their access to personal or sensitive data is limited purely to what they need to do their job, and they are trained to understand what they can and cannot do.  For example:

  • Discretion  Your staff may receive enquiries from people who are trying to obtain personal details dishonestly – teach them how to handle such enquiries so that they cannot be tricked into providing inappropriate information.
  • Passwords  Ensure your staff use strong passwords.  The longer the better, and greater strength can be gained by combining letters, numbers, punctuation and other special characters, while using both upper and lower case letters.
  • Confidentiality  It is, of course, essential that members of staff do not share their passwords or knowledge of sensitive or personal data with colleagues or friends.
  • Professionalism   Staff members should be trained to be professional in their communications, and avoid any offensive communications, emails, or inappropriate dissemination of the details of other people or their private lives.  They must be trained to understand that their inappropriate behaviour can bring your business into disrepute.
  • Spam  They should not open spam – not even to unsubscribe or ‘request no further mailings’.  If you do not have spam filters on your computers, when they receive spam, your staff members should be instructed that, when they receive spam, the email should be deleted.
  • Financial information  They should be taught not to believe emails that appear to come from a bank or building society that asks for account or credit card details or password information

If you would like to discuss staff training with Data Compliant, please contact victoria@datacompliant.co.uk

Data Breaches

Data security falls into a number of areas.  Based on the ICO’s stated data breaches from April to July 2013, it is clear that security and staff training are critical elements in protecting the personal data you hold.  The types of breach noted during that period are illustrated in the diagram below.  It is notable just how significant security and staff training are in the prevention of protecting personal and sensitive data.

Data breaches by incident type April to June 2013

In our marketing and data consultancy, Tuffill Verner Associates, we have helped businesses navigate data permissions and compliance across B2C and B2B.  With over 30 years experience each, Victoria Tuffill and Michelle Evans are well placed to help marketers stay compliant while still achieving their marketing goals.  We provide clear, tailored practical and creative advice to marketers to solve the difficulties of achieving results while staying within the confines of legal compliance.

If you’d like to chat about your data compliance, security or governance needs, please contact Victoria or Michelle on 01787 277742 or by email – victoria@datacompliant.co.uk  or michelle@datacompliant.co.uk