Barclays’ epic failure once again illustrates data breach dangers

Barclays’ epic failure once again illustrates data breach dangers

Barclays, one of the three biggest banks in the UK, is facing the worst data breach ever in the history of high street banks. It has been revealed this week that the personal details of 27,000 Barclays customers have been stolen and sold to rogue traders for as little as £50 a pop.

According to the Mail on Sunday, a former commodities broker, who is yet to be identified, passed on 2000 files from customers that sought advice from Barclays Financial Planning Business, which ceased services in 2011. Each file, dating as far back as 2008, is said to be 20 pages long and contains the details of customer earnings, savings, mortgages, health data, insurance policies, passport details and national insurance details.

Barclays, the police, the Information Commissioner and the Financial Conduct Authority are in the beginnings of what will be an expansive investigation. These files are worth millions on the black market as once sold to rogue city traders, the individuals that have had their personal data stolen may be targeted in investment scams.  

Whilst Barclays has taken the traditional PR approach and released an official statement from a company spokesperson; there is no news, updates or information about the security breach on the official company website or their social media feeds. Whilst they do have a social media team in place on the Barclays UK Facebook page, it seems they are neglecting to inform their customers on digital platforms.  

Earlier this year, when US retail giant Target encountered a huge security breach, customers were offered a free credit card monitoring service and a telephone hotline was set up. Whether Barclays will take any action to compensate the violation of the privacy of its customers is yet to be established.

In a huge violation of trust (in recent times, one of many), what will it take for senior management at Barclays to wake up and address the fact they neglected to safeguard the details of their customers?

They can’t even seem to address the problem through their website, or social media, which looks like business as usual. It looks like an attitude of corporate arrogance and head-in-the-sand plain ignorance of their customers’ huge concern. The reputation and integrity of Barclays at the moment is tarnished further in a market where the UK consumer is already disillusioned with banking.

Are businesses safe from cybercrime in Australia? It’s not just big corporations and financial institutions that should be worried. According to the Centre for Internet Security (CIS) at the University of Canberra, our lack of digital protection has left small to medium businesses vulnerable to cyber theft. According to the Cyber Insurance Research Paper that was released in December, 65% of Australian SMEs have not encrypted or safeguarded their sensitive and confidential electronic files.

Australian businesses are legally obligated to protect their customers’ personal details, so it is imperative there are strong digital protection measures in place to protect your business and your customers from a potential data security breach.

In the US the situation is much worse for small businesses. Whilst banks are liable for any security breaches of personal accounts, small business accounts are not insured from cyber theft, which means it is very likely a business could end up with no money and no way of retrieving it.

All businesses, big and small, need to be extremely vigilant and take every precaution available to protect their customers and brand from cyber theft. There’s no guarantee that it won’t happen to you.

Fi Bendall is the managing director of Bendalls Group, a team of highly trained digital specialists, i-media subject matter experts and developers.

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