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What Is a Data Breach?

A data breach is defined as the exposure of sensitive or confidential information to an unauthorised person, whether intentionally or unintentionally.

The person committing the breach can be a hacker, violating your private information for personal reasons or for the sake of a bigger entity. In some cases, the offender may not be a professional hacker at all, but rather just a grudging acquaintance of yours.

If a company that holds your data ends up giving it to an unauthorised party without your permission, this is also considered a data breach.

As you can see, any one of us can be subjected to a breach. Thus, we must try our hardest to protect our information, starting by understanding why and how a data breach occurs in the first place.

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How Are Data Breach Compensation Claims Handled?

In the age where everything is computerised, data breaches have become among the most dangerous cybercrimes. Victims of these awful crimes have to deal with serious problems concerning the disclosure of their personal or professional data and as a result, they could be owed data breach compensation.

This is why, Data Breach Claims have been introduced to help you take legal action if you fall victim to a breach. Such claims may grant you compensation, and also ensure that the organisation responsible is held accountable for the breach.

In this article, we’re going to discuss everything you need to know about a data breach, such as what it is and how it may occur to you. We’ll also explain what the claims are, how you can make them, and what they can amount to.

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What Is a Data Breach Compensation Claim?

A data breach claim is a claim you can make against an individual, an entity, or a number of defendants. In the claim, you state the defendant to be a responsible party for the exposure of your sensitive information, demanding financial compensation for the damages.

The current law allows you to make a claim for the material damage of the breach, like losing money, and the non-material damage, like suffering from distress and anxiety.

Can I Make a Data Breach Compensation Claim?

Due to the high frequency of data breaches, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into place in 2018. The GDPR aims at protecting individuals and giving them control over their data in case a third party holds it. The third party here applies to social media platforms, online services, or offline retailer.

The GDPR’s laws state that you can make a data breach claim if you believe that your data has been breached. However, you must first attempt to reach an amicable agreement with the defendant, aka the third party, outside the court.

If the defendant declines your demand or you can’t settle things outside court, you have the right to take the matter to the court and make a legal claim. But bear in mind that you have to let the defendant know that you intend to take the claim to court.

How Much Data Breach Compensation Can I Receive?

The amount of data breach compensation varies according to the type of the breach and the court judgment. 

These are some of the typical compensation ranges:

£900 – £25,700

The lowest compensation goes for the mild breach of personal data, such as your name, date of birth, home address, and email address.

You get a bigger compensation for the breach of medical information, starting from £2,000 to £5,000. You can get from £3,000 to £8,600 if your financial information is breached, depending on the complications of the breach.

You can get from £8,600 to £25,700 for the more serious data breach cases that have led to serious consequences. 

£25,700 – £42,900

If the data breach has caused any sort of physical or mental diseases, your compensation can amount to £42,900. However, in such cases, you must provide evidence for your medical condition and your financial losses.

It’s important to note that these estimates aren’t fixed; it’s left for the court to decide your exact compensation award. In some cases, the court may deny your demand for compensation if it sees that you’ve not provided enough evidence for your case. It might even order that you pay for the defendant’s costs in such a case.

This is why we always recommend that you seek advice from an independent legal entity.

 

When are you eligible for data breach compensation?

Under the DPA and GDPR, you are entitled to file a data breach claim for up to £2,000 or more in compensation if:

  •       Your personal data has been leaked, disclosed, corrupted, hacked, mis-used, or lost
  •       The breach was deliberate or due to negligence
  •       The breach occurred within less than six years
  •       You have not suffered economic loss; you can still claim for the emotional impact the breach has had in your life
  •       The company has offered you a free credit monitoring or anything similar

What do you need to show before making a claim for data breach?

For your claim to be successful you will need to demonstrate that the company that held your data failed to take all appropriate steps to ensure the safety and security of your data and that, as a result of their negligence, your data was released or made available to other, third parties or organisations without your consent. Any company that is holding your data has certain obligations with that data and a claim can be made if:

  • The breach could have happened as a result of the data being lost or hacked.
  • Released to a non-related party without your consent.
  • The information held by the company hadn’t been updated and the inaccuracy of this caused you damage. This could relate to financial details of your life for example.
  • Personal information had been used in an inappropriate manner.

 

What is the average compensation amount for breach of the Data Protection Act?

The average compensation for breaching the Data Protection Act is between £1,000 and £42,900. In some cases, you might be able to claim more compensation for a personal data breach that causes you significant emotional distress. The following figures can be used as a rough guide to how much compensation you could receive as a result of different types of breaches. 

Type of breach Possible compensation amount
Breach of a person’s name, date of birth, home address, and email address £1,000-£1,500
Breach of medical records £2,000-£5,000
Breach of financial information £3,000-£7,000
Breach that leads to an illness or depression (medical evidence would be needed to support this alongside evidence to show any other losses e.g., earnings) £25,700-£42,900

 

How much have previous data breach claimants received in compensation?

The amount of money that data breach claimants have received in compensation has increased over the years. Initial breaches of the Data Protection Act typically only won about £2,500 in damages related to the disclosure of personal information. However, as companies have been collecting more private data, more cases have been going to court and leading to more precedents being set. 

The majority of data breach claims are settled outside of court, but the amount of money that is agreed on is normally informed by cases that are similar in nature. 

Company What happened? Average claim amount
Easyjet A cyber-attack on Easyjet’s IT systems allowed hackers to access personal data of 9 million customers £2,000
118 118 Money Customer call recordings in which personal details could have been discussed were targeted by hackers  £1,500
Blackbaud Cyber-attack stole sensitive information at software giant Blackbaud that affected other companies linked to them including National Trust £2,000-£3,000
Bounty Disclosed personal data of pregnant women and mums to third parties for marketing purposes, almost 35 million pieces of data revealed £1,000 – £2,000
Bristol City Council An email error by council employee saw identities of hundreds of families with disabled children shared without their consent £2,000-£3,000
British Airways  A hack occurred in which 420,000 customers personal and financial details were stolen Up to £6,000
Claire’s Accessories A hack via malicious code that obtained customer information during online checkout £3,000 – £5,000
Dixons A hack that saw over 10 million customer records accessed by malicious software on tills in stores £1,500
Equifax Cyber criminals accessed Equifax systems in USA and stole personal information of 146 million people worldwide £1,000 – £2,000
Equinti Hundreds of annual benefit statements for Sussex police officers were sent to wrong addresses £1,000 – £2,000
Hockley Medical Practice Medical data of thousands of patients accessed by hackers £3,000
Lloyds Pharmacy Private medical documents were accidentally delivered by a courier company to a home in Scotland £1,500
LOQBOX Hit by a cyber-attack that allowed hackers to access personal data and in some cases payment card data £4,000
Marriott Cyber-attack occurred in 2014 but wasn’t discovered until 2018 affected 7 million guest records in UK £2,500
National Trust Breach originated at Blackbaud, but National Trust fundraisers and volunteers were affected as personal data exposed £2,000-£3,000
OnePlus Information hacked through online store; personal data accessed by cyber criminals £1,500 – £2,000
T-Mobile Breach affected over 1.2 million of prepaid customers, hackers accessed personal information £1,500 – £2,000
TeamSport Accidental release of hundreds of personal and financial details of former employees to an individual £4,000
Ticketmaster 40,000 customers personal and financial information stolen by cyber criminals £5,000
Twitter A bug inside Twitter led to the private tweets of 88,726 users being made public £1,000
Virgin Media An unsecured database meant personal information of existing and potential customers was accessed without permission £5,000
Watford Community Housing  Error by staff member meant email was sent out with information about 3,545 tenants containing personal data £2,000
Zoom Targeted by a hack that led to around 500,000 user accounts appearing for sale on the dark web £2,500


All compensation amounts are estimates/averages and are dependent on the degree to which the individual has been affected by the data breach. 

 

The biggest data breachesData breaches have been increasing both in terms of number and the amount of people affected. Many big companies have been affected resulting in some very large scale breaches and compensation pay outs.

Click a company to view more information about their breaches

Ticketmaster logo for data breach

Ticketmaster

  • £4,000+ Typical claim value
  • Number of records compromised

    40,000

  • Date

    Between February and June 2018

What happened?

A hack occurred in which the personal and financial details of Ticketmaster customers were stolen by cyber criminals. The information stolen by the hackers was all information that, in the wrong hands, could be misused for fraudulent purposes.

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Virgin media logo red for data breach

Virqin media

  • £5,000 Typical claim value
  • Number of records compromised

    900,000

  • Date

    Between April 2019 – 28 February 2020

What happened?

A Virgin Media database containing the personal details of 900,000 people was left unsecured and accessible online for 10 months.

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easyJet logo 3

EasyJet

  • £4,000+ Typical claim value
  • Number of records compromised

    100,000+

  • Date

    2020

What happened?

You could claim compensation worth thousands if your data was affected by the EasyJet hack that occurred in 2020.

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Frequently asked questions & Useful infoQuestions we are frequently asked by our users

How Does a Data Breach Happen?

As implied in the definition, data breaches may not always be intentional. Some occur after the user makes a certain mistake. 

These are some of the most common ways by which data can be breached:

1. Insider Misuse

In companies, authorised employees may exploit their position to share sensitive data about the company, either with a competitor or with the public. Though these employees are authorised to see the data, this is still considered a crime.

 

2. Malware

Malware is so commonly used these days. It usually doesn’t require an experienced hacker to send a fake link to a whole bunch of people. Once they open the link, the hacker can access different kinds of data according to the malware type.

For example, keyloggers will give the hacker access to any password you type. RAM scrapers will expose sensitive data by scanning the device memory.

Ransomware will block your access to your data until you pay the required ransom. File-less malware is a more malicious form of malware that not everyone can trace; instead of depending on separate virus-laden files, it infects your device through legitimate software, leaving no sign behind

One of the malware types that people easily fall for is trojans, which disguise as completely legitimate software. Once you download it, your data gets breached.

What Can a Data Breach Lead to?

A data breach can lead to multiple scenarios, depending on the information that the hacker has gotten access to. These may include:

  • Identity theft
  • Intellectual property theft
  • Leakage of private information
  • Blackmailing
  • Corruption of databases

What Are Some Data Breach Examples?

We’ve seen multiple high-profile cases over the years. The results of these were enormous. Let’s talk about some of the biggest data breaches that have occurred:

LinkedIn

Back in 2012, the popular social media platform, LinkedIn, was hit by a huge computer data breach. As if this wasn’t scandalous enough, LinkedIn, at the time, reported that 6.5 million accounts have been compromised. In 2016, however, the hackers admitted to breaching 167 million accounts, exposing their credentials. 

While the hackers were caught and imprisoned, the data they stole still remains on the dark web; they had sold it to a Russian forum. As a result, LinkedIn advised its users to change their passwords if they haven’t already since 2012.

 

Dubsmash

If you were active on social media between 2017 and 2018, you probably know how the video-messaging app, Dubsmash, was one of the hottest trends. Well, in 2018, a data breach compromised the data of 162 million Dubsmash users.

The hackers were able to get hold of users’ email addresses, usernames, dates of birth, and passwords, then sold them to Dream Market, a dark web market. Later, the information was sold to other websites.

Dubsmash hasn’t confirmed the number of the breached accounts or how the breach occurred, but it still advised users to change their passwords. 

Dixons Carphone

Dixons Carphone is a British electrical and telecommunications retailer. In 2018, it was hit by what would be announced as the biggest online data breach in the UK. The data breach affected 10.2 million customers and compromised their personal data.

As a result of this huge breach, Dixons Carphone was fined £500.000, which is the maximum fine for such cases. 

UK Government

The UK government has suffered from thousands of data breaches from August 2019 to July 2020, according to Freedom of Information (FOI) requests. The breaches hit several governmental institutions.

These institutions include the NHS Digital, where the data of 38 people, including employees and patients, was breached. The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) also presented 181 notifications of data breaches throughout that period.

How Can I Avoid a Data Breach?

The previous examples show that data breaches can happen to regular individuals, big companies, and even governments. This means that everyone should try their best to avoid such a crisis.

Here are some of the measures you can take to protect your data from being breached:

Keep Security Software Updated

Ensure that you have one of the top security software currently available. Once you get it, don’t ignore the software’s constant update reminders. Those updates are usually made in response to new data breach threats that need to be covered.If you’re new to the game, be on the lookout for fake antivirus software that can end up being malware.

 

Regular Vulnerability and Compliance Management

Vulnerability and compliance management (VCM) detects the vulnerabilities in your digital infrastructure and points out the weak points in your assets. You can use a VCM tool regularly to specify gaps in your system and solve the issue.

Backup and Encrypt Your Data

Encrypting your data can always prevent unauthorised individuals from accessing it. You must also back up your data regularly. If possible, you should back up your data on cloud data backup services instead of hardware that can become corrupted or, worse, get stolen.

Stay Safe on Social Media

It’s important to read the platform’s security terms and conditions, use strong passwords, avoid contacting anonymous accounts, and limit the information you share on social media. If any data can be used against you in any way, avoid sharing it.

Train Your Staff

You should always raise your staff’s awareness about the sensitivity of the data and the need to keep it secured and protected.

You also need to train them on following the best practices so they can avoid making mistakes that might open the door for security breaches. 

Here are some points your staff can train on:

  • Coming up with strong passwords
  • Avoid using the same password for multiple files
  • Limiting the number of people who have access to sensitive data
  • Instantly reporting any data leakage or unauthorised data access that may occur

What Can I Do About a Data Breach?

Sometimes, the breach can happen to a company that holds your data. In this case, you have the right to demand compensation from the breached company if you believe that the breach has affected your sensitive data.

Typically, most people settle claims outside of the court, since most companies would prefer to just give you the money instead of risking their reputations. But if you fail to reach an agreement with the company, you can take legal action by making a data breach claim.

How Data Breach Claims Can Help You with Your Compensation Claim?

If you’re determined on going to court, you should have legal support. At Data Breach Claims, we’ll help you determine whether you have a strong case or not. If it’s a yes, our team will introduce you to the best and most suitable solicitors and claims management companies for you.

The experts will give you solid legal advice and help present your claim to the court to guarantee you get the compensation that truly makes up for the hardships you had to go through.

Data breach compensation statistics infographic

How about taking a look at data breach statistics in 2021, via our infographic see below;

Data breach statistics infographic

Conclusion

Any access from an unauthorised person to sensitive data is considered a data breach. It doesn’t matter whether this person intended the offence, or it was done out of carelessness. It also doesn’t matter what the offender intends to do with the data.

Data breaches can result in many terrible things. They can affect the victim both financially and mentally. Thus, you should do your best to ensure your data, or the data of your clients, always remains secure and private. As a victim, you should take measures to ensure you’re getting your rights and the compensation you deserve.

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