Human error to blame as UK data breach investigations surge

Careful with emails — looking at you BoE


UK data breach investigations within the financial services industry almost trebled over the last two years, according to figures acquired via a Freedom of Information request to the Information Commissioner’s Office, with human error almost always responsible.

The 183 per cent rise in reported Data Protection Act (DPA) incidents incorporated 585 events reported to the ICO during 2014 alone. In total, 791 incidents have been investigated since the start of 2013.

All of the UK’s major banks and lenders – including Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds Banking Group, Natwest, Nationwide and Santander – have reported multiple incidents to the ICO in the last two years. It’s not clear from the request how serious these breaches might have been.

The figures — obtained after a filing by encryption services firm Egress Software Technologies — come during a period of increased scrutiny of how the financial services industry handles confidential personal and corporate data.

Most recently, the Bank of England was revealed to have inadvertently sent sensitive financial information regarding contingency plans if the UK left the EU to the wrong email address — a journalist at The Guardian in fact.

Human error was blamed for the vast majority (93 per cent) of the breaches in the financial services industry covered by Egress’ FOI request.

Across all industries, the ICO has issued civil monetary penalties of more than £7.5m, £455,000 of which were levied against financial services organisations.

This figure could potentially be set to rise when proposed reforms to the EU General Data Protection Regulation are enacted in the coming years. It is expected that the new legislation will introduce fines of up to two per cent of annual turnover for a breach.

“The financial services industry has a responsibility to us all to ensure that the information they manage on our behalf, including bank accounts, mortgages and insurance policies, is protected in a highly secure way," said Egress chief exec Tony Pepper.

Today’s report, however, highlights major concerns over the mistakes they’re making with the information entrusted to them, whether that be citizens’ personal details or highly confidential reports about the economic future of the country.

During 2014, the legal sector saw less than a third the volume of incidents reported by the financial services sector, which still prompted Information Commissioner Christopher Graham to warn law firms last August.

The financial services industry, by contrast, has escaped a public rebuke despite seemingly having more problems.

“It is staggering to see financial services firms reporting more than three times the number of incidents of the legal sector, which has recently come under targeted fire from the ICO. Today’s findings suggest that similar, if not harsher, criticism ought to be levied at the banks, building societies and insurance firms too,” Pepper added. ®

Similar topics

Broader topics


Other stories you might like

  • NASA installs a new and improved algorithm to better track near-Earth asteroids

    Nearly 20 year-old software used to protect humanity gets an upgrade

    NASA has upgraded its near-Earth asteroid monitoring algorithm to model hazardous space rocks more accurately after nearly two decades, it announced on Tuesday.

    The new system, dubbed Sentry-II, is more powerful than its predecessor, Sentry. Astronomers working at the space agency's Center for Near Earth Object Studies can now automatically calculate thermal influences that nudge an asteroid’s orbit, potentially sending it hurtling towards our home planet.

    The so-called Yarkovsky effect describes the subtle and gradual change of motion when asteroids are heated by the Sun’s light. When asteroids spin, one side of its surface exposed to the star gets heated. As it continues to rotate, the hot region enters shade and cools down. Infrared energy is radiated outwards; the photons carry momentum and impart a tiny thrust on the asteroid. Over long periods of time, these small kicks can change their paths and knock them out of their original orbit.

    Continue reading
  • Facebook slapped with an eyepopping $150B lawsuit for spreading hate speech against Rohingya refugees

    Lawsuit claims social media giant's algos helped Myanmar military crackdown on the Rohingya

    Meta was sued on Tuesday for a whopping $150 billion in a class-action lawsuit for allegedly amplifying hate speech and aiding the Myanmar military in the genocide of the Rohingya people.

    The case, led by an anonymous Rohingya refugee living in the US, accuses the entity formerly known as Facebook of inciting hatred and inflicting real harm on the predominantly Muslim group for years. Not only did the social media platform ignore hate speech posts, it's alleged that the service's algorithms actively promoted anti-Rohingya propaganda as hundreds of thousands of people fled from Myanmar to escape persecution.

    Facebook has already acknowledged its role in the campaign, which saw an estimated 25,000 people perish and 700,000 forced from the country. The lawsuit also comes after ex-employee and whistleblower Frances Haugen leaked internal documents demonstrating how its algorithms prioritized engagement over safety.

    Continue reading
  • Power management IC shortage holding cars, laptops, hostage

    Couple of cents-worth of kit causing big problems for the year to come

    The shortage of power management chips is worsening and holding back companies from building cars, PCs and items with batteries or an on-off switch, Trendforce said in a study this week.

    Power management ICs cost just a few cents, and are among cheap chips that include display driver and USB-C components that are in short supply. These chips are as important to PCs and other electronics as CPUs or memory.

    The demand for PMICs has gone through the roof with the emergence of electric cars and growing demand for PCs and consumer electronics during the past 20 plus months. Trendforce expects the prices will go up by 10 per cent to a six-year high of $0.23.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021