Small and medium sized businesses are being warned to take note as a company which suffered a cyber attack is fined £60,000 by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

An investigation by the ICO found Berkshire-based Boomerang Video Ltd failed to take basic steps to stop its website being attacked.

Sally Anne Poole, ICO enforcement manager, said:

“Regardless of your size, if you are a business that handles personal information then data protection laws apply to you.  

“If a company is subject to a cyber attack and we find they haven’t taken steps to protect people’s personal information in line with the law, they could face a fine from the ICO. And under the new General Data Protection Legislation (GDPR) coming into force next year, those fines could be a lot higher.”

She added:

“Boomerang Video failed to take basic steps to protect its customers’ information from cyber attackers. Had it done so, it could have prevented this attack and protected the personal details of more than 26,000 of its customers.”

The video game rental firm’s website was subject to a cyber attack in 2014 in which 26,331 customer details could be accessed. The attacker used a common technique known as SQL injection to access the data.

The ICO’s investigation found:

  • Boomerang Video failed to carry out regular penetration testing on its website that should have detected errors
  • The firm failed to ensure the password for the account on the Wordpress section of its website was sufficiently complex
  • Boomerang Video had some information stored unencrypted and that which was encrypted could be accessed because it failed to keep the decryption key secure
  • Encrypted cardholder details and CVV numbers were held on the web server for longer than necessary

Ms Poole said:

“For no good reason Boomerang Video appears to have overlooked the need to ensure it had robust measures in place to prevent this from happening.

“I hope businesses learn from today’s fine and check that they are doing all they can to look after the customer information in their care.”

The ICO has a range of guidance available to help businesses ahead of the implementation of GDPR on 25 May 2018. This includes website pages dedicated to the data protection reform legislation, and an updated toolkit for SMEs that includes a checklist to help organisations in their GDPR preparations.

 

Notes to Editors

  1. The Information Commissioner’s Office upholds information rights in the public interest, promoting openness by public bodies and data privacy for individuals.
  1. The ICO has specific responsibilities set out in the Data Protection Act 1998, the Freedom of Information Act 2000, Environmental Information Regulations 2004 and Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003.
  1. The ICO can take action to change the behaviour of organisations and individuals that collect, use and keep personal information. This includes criminal prosecution, non-criminal enforcement and audit. The ICO has the power to impose a monetary penalty on a data controller of up to £500,000.
  1. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a new law that will replace the Data Protection Act 1998 and will apply in the UK from 25 May 2018. The government has confirmed that the UK’s decision to leave the EU will not affect the commencement of the GDPR.
  1. Anyone who processes personal information must comply with eight principles of the Data Protection Act, which make sure that personal information is:
  • fairly and lawfully processed;
  • processed for limited purposes;
  • adequate, relevant and not excessive;
  • accurate and up to date;
  • not kept for longer than is necessary;
  • processed in line with your rights;
  • secure; and
  • not transferred to other countries without adequate protection.
  1. The Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR) sit alongside the Data Protection Act. They give people specific privacy rights in relation to electronic communications.

There are specific rules on:

  • marketing calls, emails, texts and faxes;
  • cookies (and similar technologies);
  • keeping communications services secure; and
  • customer privacy as regards traffic and location data, itemised billing, line identification, and directory listings.

We aim to help organisations comply with PECR and promote good practice by offering advice and guidance. We will take enforcement action against organisations that persistently ignore their obligations.

  1. Civil Monetary Penalties (CMPs) are subject to a right of appeal to the (First-tier Tribunal) General Regulatory Chamber against the imposition of the monetary penalty and/or the amount of the penalty specified in the monetary penalty notice.
  1. Any monetary penalty is paid into the Treasury’s Consolidated Fund and is not kept by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).
  1. To report a concern to the ICO telephone our helpline 0303 123 1113 or go to ico.org.uk/concerns.