Employee data cock-ups rife as Virgin fall-out continues

data_breach2It seems that Virgin Media is not alone in its staff data security gaffes, employee error – including downloading malware and phishing attacks – is the cause of 60% of all data breaches among UK businesses.

A new report from insurance broker Gallagher, which polled 1,000 UK business leaders, claims that almost a third (30%) of affected businesses have had their operations knocked out for four to five days as a result of employee error.

Respondents also reported reputational damage (14%) and financial consequences (12%), which included fines issued by data privacy regulators.

Most executives (71%) are aware of the problem and almost two thirds (64%) said they “regularly remind employees” about the risk of cybercrime.

Gallagher head of cyber Tom Draper said: “Virtually all businesses are at risk of a cyber-attack and as this research shows, it is often an employee mistake which causes the problem. Cybercriminals have become increasingly sophisticated with ways of trying to obtain access to data or a company’s system and it’s hard to remove the risk of human error entirely.

“However, by businesses taking a comprehensive, multi-layered approach to cybersecurity – including ensuring they have the appropriate insurance in place, establishing effective training programmes for employees and implementing technologies that secure the most sensitive data – they can save both money and resources in the long run, while also helping to mitigate the potential threat of an attack.”

Whether Virgin Media has any of these measures in place is not known, although the company is now claiming it has not been hit by a data breach but that its database had simply been “incorrectly configured” by a staff member, who had not followed the correct protocol.

In a section on its website, entitled “Virgin Media’s data incident – Help and Advice”, the firm claims to have contacted all affected customers to tell them the next steps. However, the post has the comments section turned off so customers cannot make their feelings felt.

Even so, on one forum on the Virgin Media site, customers have blasted the handling of the incident.

One customer wrote: “Come on Virgin Media – be honest and be transparent about what has happened, who dropped the ball and instead of telling customers how they can protect themselves, doing something constructive to protect YOUR customers! No doubt the ICO will fine you heavily but that will not help Mr & Mrs Smith, or the elderly gentleman or woman who will fall foul of someone calling them claiming to be from Virgin Media. No wonder your Trustpilot scores are so bad.”

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