With 65,000 data breach attempts occurring daily, and millions of UK employees still working from home, are companies doing enough to keep customers’ data safe?
Since the adoption of GDPR in May 2018, which obligates all companies to report any suspected data breaches, the EU saw 160,000 reports by January 2020. This number is continuing to soar, as COVID-19 leaves businesses open to attacks every day.
Recent reports have highlighted the huge number of data breach attempts on UK SMEs. Out of 65,000 daily attempts, 4,500 are successful, leaving a range of sensitive data available to hackers across the web. This huge number makes us question how safe our data is during this pandemic – should we be worried?
COVID-19 has seen 46.6% of people working from home, the majority of whom will have been doing so full time. This is compared to 30% of people who worked from home pre-COVID, most of whom would have only been doing so occasionally. With many of these employees working on unsecured networks, using personal laptops for work which may have malware hiding on them, and potentially using their work laptop for personal use, there’s an increased risk of being exposed to malware and viruses.
Christine Sabino, Senior Solicitor at the UK’s leading data breach claims specialists, Hayes Connor said, “With many people continuing to work from home on unsecure devices, company data is likely being put at serious risk. If customers’ data is exposed due to lax home working practices, businesses could find themselves in real trouble.
“Customers could take legal action to seek compensation, and there is a strong possibility of being fined by the Information Commissioner’s Office, which can be very costly. There is also the potential negative impact on a company’s image and customer loyalty to think about.”
According to a study by Varonis, 80% of consumers would defect from a business if their information was compromised in a data breach. This highlights the importance of ensuring data is protected.
The question is, how can businesses tackle these problems to ensure they meet rigorous standards?
There are a number of ways to do this, including:
- Getting all employee laptops onto a local VPN
- Training all employees on the importance of data protection, and how to avoid a breach
- Making sure all employees update their devices regularly
- Installing malware software, and paying for it if your employees are using personal laptops
- Making sure all files are stored in a safe place
- Being certain that all passwords are strong
- Regular risk assessments, by yourself and a third party
- Communicating with all partners and vendors to ensure they meet GDPR standards
As we’ve seen, the importance of making sure your company maintains GDPR standards whilst your employees remain at home can’t be overstated. Not only do you risk your company image, but you may end up in hot water in the courthouse along the way.
With working from home looking to become the “new normal”, even after the pandemic is over, will you take these actions to secure your data? Or will you leave sensitive information open to hackers? You decide.