ICO Breach Complaints Jump 160% in a Year

There has been a huge annual rise in data breach complaints to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) following the start of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) regime, according to a leading law firm.

An FOI request issued by London-headquartered EMW revealed that the watchdog received 6281 complaints between May 25 and July 3 this year: a 160% increase on the same period in 2017.

It’s believed that the increased publicity and extra powers it gives to consumers on managing and accessing details about their personal data could have driven the rise.

To cope with the extra burden, the ICO itself is on a recruiting drive and hopes to increase the number of full-time staff from the current 530 up to 720, the report also revealed.

Its annual funding of £24m will also shoot up to £38m in 2018-19.

Mark Adams, regional vice-president of UK & Ireland at Veeam, claimed the figures should be a wake-up call for UK businesses.

“If this significant rise of GDPR-fuelled complaints tells us anything, it’s that how businesses handle data is now fully immersed within the public consciousness,” he added. “Businesses must therefore now become far more proactive in managing that data, because the cost of failure exceeds the now infamously heavy penalties. It could also cause a long tail of damage for a company’s brand and reputation.”

Adams recommended firms deliver company-wide training for employees on data handling and how to spot phishing attacks, to improve awareness, alongside intelligent data management tools and effective incident response processes.

Over the past few months alone there have been a spate of reported data breach incidents in the UK including Superdrug, Ticketmaster and Dixons Carphone.

The latter could be in trouble with the ICO after grossly underestimating the size of the breach, which is now said to affect as many as 10 million customers.

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