Global events over the past twelve months have been nothing short of extraordinary.
With COVID causing havoc and creating a huge amount of change across the globe, many have had to adjust to living and working.
Businesses have been at the forefront of this adjustment, with many having to change the way they conduct their business and where their employees work. Underneath this change and the associated technological advancements, businesses have had to contend with a more sinister aspect: an increase in cyberattacks and data breaches.
As we start 2021, it’s worth looking at the lessons learnt from data breaches during the 2020 and how these could impact and change our digital landscape for many years to come.
There has been no shortage of data breaches and cyberattacks around the world over the past twelve months. With many businesses having to quickly change the way they were used to working, by asking employees to work from home, corners were unfortunately cut in some cases, and security provisions were missed. The global changes resulted in a boom in cyber threats, with businesses in the UK alone seeing a 31% increase in cyberattacks during the initial months of the first lockdown.
Cybercriminals did not take a break during the initial months of the lockdown, with many large and small businesses succumbing to cyberattacks. At times last year, it has felt that many businesses did not learn the lessons from previous data breaches that occurred in years gone by.
In May 2020, EasyJet admitted that part of its customer database had been breached, including the details of over 2,000 credit and debit cards. The breach was similar to the BA data breach which occurred in 2018 that affected over 400,000 customers, with estimates that BA may have to pay up to £2.4bn in compensation to those affected. EasyJet could be facing a far bigger class action given the size of the breach, which affected some 9 million customers.
Cyberattacks aside, Virgin Media saw one of the biggest data breaches that was discovered in 2020, with 900,000 people’s data exposed, which included personal details such as names, email addresses and dates of birth. As well as personal details, some exposed information also included customer requests to block or unblock certain explicit websites. It’s estimated that customers could receive on average of £5,000 in compensation for the emotional distress that this breach has caused. This breach was the result of an incorrectly configured database that was blamed on an employee error.
How cybersecurity could change forever
As we start 2021, we should hopefully see an improvement. As well as the gradual reopening of societies, we should also hope to see a change in cybersecurity provisions borne out of adjustments made during 2020. This is even more prevalent given that we are back in another national lockdown.
Businesses will have to maintain strong cybersecurity provisions as we kick off 2021. With working from home becoming the norm, I expect that many employees may want to continue to work part-time from home in some capacity for the foreseeable future. This could mean that cybercriminals may continue to have many ways to access business data arising from poor personal security provisions found at people’s homes.
Increasingly, businesses need to hire specific employees to maintain security protocols and consistently manage cyber threats, and they need to be listened to across the whole business. Companies have faced challenges when communicating the importance of cybersecurity and training employees on their responsibilities, so having a full-time, trusted and respected expert helping to combat cyber threats could be hugely beneficial.
The digital landscape will continually change in 2021 and beyond, and businesses must remain vigilant and monitor ever-changing threats. As we take stock of the changes that have occurred over the past twelve months and move into a new year, it’s worth understanding that cyber threats are unlikely to subside as we move into a post-COVID world, and they may instead increase. Cybercriminals are not likely to slow down and will no doubt increase their efforts to gain access to valuable data. It’s up to businesses and business leaders to create strong enough provisions to repel continuing threats.
About the Author
Aman Johal is a Solicitor, Founder and Director of Your Lawyers, a law firm that offers decades of experience in fighting for the compensation that consumers deserve.
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