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How do I find out if my personal data has been breached?

With each of us now holding dozens of accounts across a plethora of apps, websites, and programmes, it can feel hard to keep your data under control. Ensuring your private information stays private is a top priority, and there are a number of different tools you can use to check. With over 23 million data records breached last year alone, you can never be too cautious.

What is a data breach?

When you provide an organisation or individual with your personal information, you expect them to keep it private. However, expectations aren’t always met, and year after year, more details are exposed in breaches. Sometimes this is the result of malicious intent via malware, phishing, or ransomware, such as the ‘WannaCry’ ransomware that hijacked the NHS’s systems in 2018, costing the service £92 million and causing the cancellation of over 19,000 appointments. Other times they are accidental, such as when Hackney Council left the privacy settings on an online project management tool public, exposing sensitive information regarding vulnerable women and children living in hostels.

Regardless of how much care you take to protect your data, you can still fall victim to a data breach, as you’re dependent on other organisations or individuals taking the same level of care as you — which sadly, may not be the case. Even the biggest names in the technology industry, such as Meta and Samsung, have fallen victim to data breaches.

What tools are available to check if my data is safe?

The website “have i been pwned” can check in seconds if your email address or phone number was leaked in a data breach. It details how many breaches your information was involved in and whether any of your details were pasted to a public website.

If you use an iPhone, it has built-in safety features that detect whether passwords stored on your device have been leaked into the public domain. A push notification should appear on your screen to alert you of the leak. Alternatively, you can navigate to the device’s settings, find the passwords section, and check out the security recommendations.

Check for correspondence from organisations that have suffered a breach

Data breaches are regularly reported in the news, and you may recognise an organisation or individual involved as someone you have provided with your personal information. Keep an eye on your emails, messages and calls for any details from the company regarding your data.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is responsible for enforcing the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the UK. They stipulate that once an organisation realises they were the victim of a data breach that is likely to “result in a risk to the rights and freedoms of individuals”, then those affected must be contacted as soon as possible. The business or individual is required to inform you about:

  • What data was lost in the breach
  • The likely consequences you’ll face
  • What actions the organisation has taken to mitigate any risks to you
  • How many people and data records were affected by the breach
  • Contact details for where you can find further advice and information

What is the General Data Protection Regulation?

The GDPR is the European data protection law that protects your right to privacy and dictates to organisations how they must treat your data to keep it safe. It was modified in the UK to create the Data Protection Act 2018, which is constituted of seven principles:

  1. Transparency of data use, lawfulness, and fairness
  2. Limited use
  3. Minimisation
  4. Accuracy
  5. The right to be forgotten
  6. Security
  7. Accountability

Anyone that collects personal data — whether that’s an individual or an organisation — is bound to the Data Protection Act 2018 and the GDPR. Because they operate on privacy by default, they’re regarded as some of the strongest pieces of data protection legislation in the world.

Anyone who collects personal data — whether that’s an individual or an organisation — is bound to the Data Protection Act 2018 and the GDPR. Because they operate on privacy by default, they’re regarded as some of the strongest pieces of data protection legislation in the world.

The consequences of failing to prevent a data breach can result in a significant fine for the organisation from ICO. Furthermore, if you were the victim of a data breach, you can make a claim against the company for compensation.

How can I make a claim after falling victim to a data breach?

You have six years from the breach to make a claim. Data breach claims can be made for:

  • A breach of human rights
  • Financial losses
  • Lost or stolen data
  • Misuse of data
  • Distress
  • Damages

To receive compensation, you can contact the organisation responsible directly and arrange a settlement with them. However, companies regularly attempt to undercompensate data breach victims. Therefore, you need to consult a solicitor before making a claim to make sure you receive what you’re owed.

HNK Solicitors can help you make a successful data breach claim

If your data was compromised in a breach, our team of expert data breach solicitors can seek compensation on your behalf. We have helped hundreds of people successfully make a claim and are ready to get started on your case.

We offer a no-win, no-fee service, so until you receive your award, there isn’t a penny to pay.

To get started on your claim, get in touch with us today on 0151 668 0809, email us at enquiries@hnksolicitors.com, or fill in our online form, and we will be in touch.

 

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