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Hacked off? Data breaches abound (Brands & IP Newsnotes - issue 4)

08 February 2017

The inevitable rise of the data breach, otherwise known as the ‘hack’, continued unabated in 2016. The UK government reported that two thirds of ‘large’ business (i.e. greater than or equal to 250 employees – regardless of revenue) “experienced a cyber-breach or attack in the past year”.

Not only that but the breath-taking scale of the problem became apparent when Yahoo disclosed last year that a hack in 2013 had resulted in up to 1 billion accounts being  compromised.

The data taken is thought to have included some or all of the following: names, addresses, dates of birth, telephone numbers and passwords. It is not so much a question of ‘if’ but ‘when’.Breaches are no longer incidents that happen to other people or the poorly run business. They are undoubtedly mainstream and can happen to any of us. Giants such as Tesco, Sage and Talk Talk have been affected in recent times. And it’s not always hacks from the outside that cause the problem. Reports suggest that in as many as 40% of all cases of data breach, the perpetrators are actually employees.

So what to do? Well, as the old adage goes, prevention is better than cure. We should all be acutely aware of our (potential) vulnerabilities and put in place appropriate practices and procedures. Within any organisation it is crucially important to ensure awareness of and education in relation to cyber security. This includes looking at your own organisation, identifying potential issues before they become a problem and developing a clear strategy so you know what to do, when, and how to investigate, manage, contain, and deal with a breach. A joined up, practical approach for the whole organisation is best. Consideration should be given not only to legal issues around internal policies, practices and procedures but how others such as insurers and PR specialists can provide practical assistance too.

This article was first published in the Brands & IP newsnotes publication - issue 4

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