The European Commission has published additional guidance on the upcoming General Data Protection Regulation and how it is expected to affect businesses. The document aims to summarise the purpose and benefits of the GDPR, while also outlining steps that organisations need to take in preparation for the regulation and discussing the steps that the Commission plans to take in the coming months. The European Commission has also taken this opportunity to launch a new online tool to help businesses (particularly small and medium-sized enterprises) meet GDPR compliance in time for the May 25th deadline.
Carphone Warehouse have been ordered to pay a fine of £400,000 (over €450,000) to the UK Information Commissioner’s Office, one of the largest fines the ICO has ever issued to a company. A data breach at Carphone Warehouse occurred in 2015, which subsequently led the ICO to investigate the company and discovered a series of “systematic failures” in security practice. The severity of the fine reflected the fact that up to 3 million customers’ data was compromised, in addition to the data of a further 1000 employees. The data itself was also considered extensive by the ICO, as names, addresses, phone numbers, marital status and dates of birth were all leaked. It is further believed that some 18,000 customers had payment card details leaked as well.
The £400,000 fine issued to Carphone Warehouse was one of the largest issued by the ICO. Over 3 million records were compromised in the breach.
2018 certainly knows how to make an entrance. The Christmas turkey has barely been finished and we’re told that nearly every electronic device on the planet with an Intel processor (from servers to PCs, smart devices and more) are susceptible to not one, but possibly two of the worst critical hardware related flaws ever known (Meltdown & Spectre). Flaws that can allow a hacker to steal your data without a hint of detection. In cases like these we often hear “but I have the latest next generation antivirus software”, but it’s not going to help you here I’m afraid. “And I have the latest next generation firewall and a state of the art SIEM solution just installed” – no good for fixing this either. You may even be really good and have your staff trained in security awareness and your systems backed up offsite – but unfortunately neither will address the root cause of this global issue. Even Santa couldn’t help fix this one – that’s how serious this is.
The hardware flaws have been aptly named “Meltdown” and “Spectre”. They sound like something straight out of a James Bond spy movie – and to be honest – the names aren’t far off, given if exploited, spying on you is exactly what a hacker could do. Predictions have already come in from experts that this could be the biggest disaster in IT history, and similar to the KRACK WiFi vulnerability of last year, Meltdown and Spectre could take years to fully fix. While important workarounds are available in some cases and must be put in place (see below) , only a hardware redesign in processor architecture will truly lay these bugs to rest.
To make matters worse, now that the crafty hackers know about it and with the EU GDPR data protection regulation coming into force on the 25th May – we predict, this year is going to see some considerable cyber-attacks that will try to take advantage of at least one of these flaws which may result in some pretty serious data breaches and some serious GDPR related fines. Its time like these one would think “Why did we ever go paperless?”.
Nadine Dorries, a British MP, has made news over the past few weeks after admitting on Twitter that she shares the password to her work PC with other staff in her office and even “interns on exchange programs”. According to Dorries, the main reason for this is that her staff can access a shared mailbox on the PC and reply to constituents. More worrying still, in wake of the backlash directed at Dorries, other MPs have come forward and admitted to the practice, revealing a worrying trend. In a further statement that showed up Dorries’ lack of data protection savvy, she tweeted that since she was backbench MP without access to government documents, there was nothing sensitive to access. Dorries (and hopefully all other MPs sharing their passwords) are in for a rude awakening, however, as not only is sharing passwords against the rules of parliament in the UK, but even information as basic as an address book constitutes Personally Identifiable Information (PII) which is subject to strong protection under existing data protection laws – and will be protected even more fiercely under the upcoming GDPR, even in the UK.
Password sharing may be standard practice among MPs, but it is far from best practice. Mailbox delegation could achieve the same productivity with a fraction of the risk.
A new survey has been conducted by Mazars and McCann Fitzgerald on Irish businesses around their levels of GDPR readiness, and the results are not pretty. An astounding three quarters of businesses surveyed say that they’re not ready for the GDPR, which comes into effect in six months time. This latest insight into how the new EU data protection regulation will affect Irish businesses has revealed that they are facing serious levels of difficulty in complying with the new rules.