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British MPs propose fines for firms failing in cyber security

21/06/2016 by Sharon Shahzad


A number of MPs in Britain have proposed that firms failing to protect their consumers from data hacks should be fined. In addition, the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee has proposed that chief executives should have their pay linked directly to a firm’s online safety, alongside a number of other recommendations that could help create a culture of improved online safety.

The latest discussion comes after a security breach at TalkTalk left the personal details of almost 157,000 customers in criminal hands. By hacking the popular mobile phone company’s network, fraudsters were able to gain the bank account numbers and sorting codes for thousands of people. In the wake of this serious breach, the committee inquiry has made a number of new regulations for the safety of consumer data.

Though stopping short of saying that employees should be subject to criminal proceedings if they cannot protect personal and sensitive data, the committee suggested that it should become far easier for compensation to be sought by affected parties if information is stolen. In addition, the government needs to conduct public awareness campaigns for phishing, telephone and online scams, MPs said, whilst fines should also be imposed for companies failing to report breaches.

Talking about the latest report, committee chair Jesse Norman said: “Our report today I think is a giant wake up call for industry generally because what that showed (the TalkTalk hack) is that even very sophisticated companies in the telecoms area were not invulnerable to attacks.”

TalkTalk was breached in October 2015, with the firm admitting that the attack had been “significant.” Overall, the personal details of around 157,000 people were stolen, including the personal bank information of some 15,000 consumers. The obscured versions of both credit card and debit card details were stolen from 28,000 people. So far, six arrests have been made, all of whom are aged under 21.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has launched an investigation into the attack and breach. However, with the resulting report having taken eight months to arrive, the select committee has suggested that there is an understaffing issue at the ICO.

Norman added: “We don't know the full detail of the attack even now and we've asked TalkTalk to publish as much of the current report that they've done on the attack as possible but it may have been a very simple one.”





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