Morrisons Loses Data Leak Challenge

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It has just been reported that Morrisons has lost its challenge to a High Court ruling that it is liable for a data breach that saw thousands of its employees’ details posted online in the first data leak class action seen in the UK.

Workers brought a claim against the company after employee Andrew Skelton stole the data, including salary and bank details, of nearly 100,000 staff.

Commenting on the news are the following cyber security professionals.

Tim Sadler, CEO and Co-founder at Tessian:

“While an organisation’s employees are its biggest asset, they can also unfortunately be its biggest risk. In the case with Morrisons, an employee stole and leaked extremely sensitive information of Morissons personnel, which threatened the safety and peace of mind of nearly 100,000 people. This data breach highlights the financial and reputational damage that a single employee’s misconduct can have on an organisation. Despite such detrimental ramifications, many companies lack the necessary transparency over how sensitive data is managed and processed.

This can be a difficult task. The opportunity to profit from stolen proprietary data means that an employee may endeavour to extract it. As long as this temptation and the opportunity to pursue it remains, so too does the threat of data theft. Moreover, organisations, especially those with hundreds or thousands of employees, may find it difficult to monitor the activity of every individual. Companies like Morrisons that possess large swathes of both staff and customer data, have a duty to prevent this kind of data breach from happening. If they cannot monitor or control employee behaviour, they must take the necessary steps to find and invest in a technology solution to prevent data loss from exfiltration.”

Bill Evans, Senior Director at One Identity: 

“The recent ruling against Morrisons could pave a new way for enterprising threat actors to extort money from corporations. From this point forward, every business in the UK must redouble its efforts to protect employee and customer data as the cost and frequency of ransomware attacks is likely to increase significantly. In part, this is because the risks and costs associated with the loss of employee data have increased as employees can claim compensation for the distress of being impacted by a breach. No longer must they prove negative financial impact; simply the act of having their information compromised is enough to incur loss to the company.

Businesses would be best served to ensure the four bases of cybersecurity are in place and in operation to minimise these costs. These include privileged access management to protect the most powerful accounts, multifactor authentication for, at the very least, privileged accounts, governance to ensure only the right people have the right access, and end user education so all employees know the risks and costs associated with a cyber security breach.”

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