The DMA has issued a stark warning that the major data breach at the UK Electoral Commission – which could have affected millions of voters – risks damaging the tireless work the marketing industry has put in to build people’s trust.
The Commission fessed up to the breach yesterday, claiming it had been the victim of a “complex cyber-attack” from unspecified “hostile actors” who had managed to gain access to copies of the electoral registers, from August 2021.
Hackers also broke into its emails and “control systems” but the attack was not discovered until October last year.
In a public notice, the commission said hackers accessed copies of the registers it was holding for research purposes, and for conducting checks on political donors.
In a statement, the Information Commissioner’s Office said: “The Electoral Commission has contacted us regarding this incident and we are currently making enquiries. We recognise this news may cause alarm to those who are worried they may be affected and we want to reassure the public that we are investigating as a matter of urgency.
“In the meantime, if anyone is concerned about how their data has been handled, they should get in touch with the ICO or check our website for advice and support.”
However, DMA managing director Rachel Aldighieri, insists the incident could have a major impact on public trust in the digital economy.
She commented: “High profile data breaches like this, rooted in a lack of communication and transparency, risk damaging the tireless work our industry has put in to build people’s trust.
“This situation highlights the importance all businesses should place on the security of customers’ data and the need to build in safeguards to protect it.
“Data, and consumers’ willingness to share it, is a fundamental part of the digital economy, so maintaining its security must be a business imperative – this message should forever resonate with businesses.”
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