1,2,3,4 is the start of The Beatles “I saw her standing there”, it’s the way you “declare a thumb war” and it’s also the first 4 characters of the worst password of 2019 – which is 123456.
11th February 2020 is the 17th “Safer Internet Day” and I’d like to make it a day where people change their simple passwords for something much more secure.
Why is internet security important?
Every day millions of websites come under attack, ranging from simple personal sites to complex e-commerce sites and online email service providers.
Just think about your information that’s out there, and what could happen if your business or personal security was breached.
What’s in your Gmail, Hotmail, Outlook.com mailbox, how valuable would that be to a cyber-criminal? What if they hacked your email account and sent emails to your contacts and connections, as you, then tried to use your email address for more nefarious purposes?
How about if, after hacking your email account, they used your credentials to try to
break into your bank account
hack in to your building society account
access your credit card account
use the info to set up fake accounts that they can then use to steal your identity, borrow money in your name and have it sent to their bank accounts,
buy products online that are delivered to them and billed to your address – the list goes on and becomes even worse if it’s business data that has been stolen.
Business bank accounts typically have more money in them with longer lines of credit, your servers may contain enough information for the cyber criminals to target your customers, there may even be ideas, designs and other pieces of Intellectual Property that could be sold or misused in a variety of other ways, all to your disadvantage.
You know it makes sense to have stronger passwords but a lot of people, as evidenced by this list, obviously can’t be bothered – maybe they deserve what comes their way?
Well I don’t think they do, which is why I’ve published this blog post as part of “Safer Internet Day” and I’d ask you to review your password policy, both internally and personally and follow these simple tips and guidelines to minimise your risk.
What should you do?
Don’t use the same password on every site you log in to, ideally, each site that you have an account with should have its own, unique, password. I know that sounds hard but it’s remarkably easy if you use one of the many, secure, password creation and storage sites. There are loads to choose from, some hare subscription based whist others are free. You can read a review of the top ones here.
Personally, I use LastPass, I started using it a number of years ago and find it invaluable in matters of internet security. Your password manager will automatically create strong and unique passwords and save them in your databank and automatically fill in the boxes whenever you are on one of your sites that require secure access.
Many also come as Apps for installation on your phones and tablets so that you can always access the sites you need to, whenever and wherever you are.
They run in your browser so that you can access your passwords and other log-in data from any internet connected computer, at home or abroad, on holiday or business trip – just make sure you remember to logout if you’re using a public computer.
If you don’t want to use an App then make sure your passwords are at least 8 characters long and are comprised of a mix of UppEr cAse and loweR case, 1nclud3 a numb3r or 2 and m@ke use of spec!al character$ wherever possible. You can check the strength of your password at HowSecureIsMyPassword
If you are concerned about any of the security aspects for your business, then send me an email, firstname.lastname@example.org or give me a call on 01793 238020 for a hack free, zero obligation chat and I’ll be delighted to see whether I can help secure your business from cyber criminals and make sure that you don’t become a victim, like Capital One did in 2019 where a hacker stole 100 million records that included names, addresses, post codes, email addresses, phone numbers, dates of birth, bank details and social security numbers.
Christmas is nearly here, people are beginning the big “wind down” and it would be so easy to let your guard down too.
Well, let me tell you, the hackers and cyber criminals won’t – it anything they’ll be ratcheting up their activity because they know that our minds will be on other things.
You know, things like Christmas parties, gifts, food, television and everything else that’s associated with the season of goodwill.
So, vigilance must remain high, both in the office and when working from home. Keep your eyes open for suspicious looking emails, especially those coming from unexpected quarters, with messages that promise much, such as tax refunds or deliveries of items you don’t remember ordering. Also beware of emails with links to websites that look OK but in reality will do harm.
It’s also a good idea to take a fresh look at your password security. SplashData have just released their ninth annual “Worst Passwords of the Year” list which has been compiled from more than 5m passwords that have ended up on the Dark Web after being purloined by hackers.
Unfortunately, not a lot has changed over previous lists
123456 (same place as 2018)
123456789 (up 1 place)
qwerty (a return to the top 5 for this old favourite)
password (slips two places)
1234567 (up 2)
12345678 (falls out of the top 5)
12345 (falls by 2 places)
iloveyou (this perennial is up 2 places from 10 in 2018)
111111 (yes, people do use this although it’s fallen 3 places from last year)
SplashData estimates that at least 1 in 10 people have used at least one of these poor passwords.
Data breaches are inevitable but by using strong, unique passwords for each individual account that you have makes the theft of one password much less of a disaster than if you use the same (or close variant) across all of your accounts.
3 simple tips to make your digital life more secure
Use passphrases (random word combinations) of 12 characters or more with mixed character types
Use a different password for each of your log-ins so if you loose one password you haven’t lost all of the keys to your digital empire
Use a password manager to secure your digital assets, to generate random password combinations, store them securely and make them available across all of your devices
And PLEASE, if this applies to to you – STOP USING PASSWORD or 12345678 and use one of these instead
Have a great Christmas, a happy new year and I look forward to communicating with you in the new year. If you need any help, please, just ask. You can reach me by phone – 01793 238020 – email – email@example.com or just hunt me down on Social Media.
However, I hope to enjoy Christmas too so may be slower than normal in responding to your requests. I’ll be back in the office on January 2nd.
Government Communications Head Quarters (GCHQ)- where the UK spooks provide signals intelligence to the UK’s government, military and Military Intelligence and the Department for Digital, Media and Sport (DCMS) carried out their first UK Cyber Survey and the results didn’t make for great reading.
42% of us Brits expect to lose money to on-line fraud
23.2 million worldwide victims of cyber breaches used 123456 as their password
15% say they know how to properly protect themselves from harmful on-line activity
33% rely on friends and family for help with their cyber security
Young people are the most likely to be cyber aware, privacy concious and careful of the details they share on-line
61% of internet users check Social Media daily, 21% say they never look at it
More than 50% use the same password for their email that they use elsewhere
Dr Ian Levy, NCSC Technical Director said “Using hard-to-guess passwords is a strong first step and we recommend combining three random but memorable words. Be creative and use words memorable to you, so people can’t guess your password.” whilst Margot James, DMCS Minister said “We shouldn’t make their (cyber criminals) lives easy so choosing a strong and separate password for your email account is a great practical step. “
Most Regularly Used Passwords
It’s a shame that the top password list hasn’t really changed for at least 10 years – it shows how complacent a lot of us are with our on-line security.
I used to have 3 passwords, a simple one that I used really casually for newspaper sign-ups etc – name123 (not my real passwords, merely examples) a medium security one that I used on shopping sites, n@m3123 and a more secure one, used for banking etc – c3ler0n! (and all of the ones that I used feature on the Have I Been Pwned list).
About 5 or more years ago I switched to a Password Manager. I have 801 log-ins and 801 different passwords. All of them are at least 16 random characters long and comprise upper & lower case letters, numbers and symbols (where permitted).
My Password database is stored securely in the cloud and is replicated on my PC, Phone and Tablet and accessible from my Chromebook too. I use LastPass but others exist and here’s a review of some of the top ones.
As you can see, I do my best to stay on top of my security but if you feel adrift, or need some help, just give me a call on 01793 238020 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for a free chat.
Let’s answer the easy question first, “do you need 2FA”? The simple answer is “yes”, you do need Two Factor Authentication (2FA). Now read on to learn more about what it is, how it works and how it can secure your data and online activity
I’ve written in previous posts about passwords, hacking, identity theft and the threat to our privacy, data and businesses from cyber criminals. As you might imagine, the number of attacks is increasing, as is the sophistication.
Why are Cyber Attacks increasing
Simple! The number of websites that we log-in to continues to increase and many people use one password across many websites. As you can see from the list on the right a lot of people use passwords that are less than ideal. The cyber criminals know this which makes it a gift for them.
Some people think they are safe because they have 3 passwords. A simple one for common sites where they don’t see a threat (posting comments to newspaper websites for example), a medium one that they use for on-line shopping and Cloud storage sites (DropBox for example) and a really complicated one for their “secure” sites, such as bank access etc.
After all, just trying to remember pWa#eeAS7uNggK49 is a challenge but if you have to remember a different one for every single website it becomes a real challenge. You might jot them down in a notebook or diary but what happens if you loose your book, or just leave it on a train. Not only have you been frozen out of your accounts (until you work your way through all those “forgotten password” routines) but your security has been seriously compromised.
Some people, like me for example, use password manager. These apps create a secure password for ever site that you log in to and make it available across desk-tops, lap-tops, phones and tablets and don’t cost very much at all. But even if you use one how secure are you, actually?
If a site that you use your super strong password on is penetrated and data stolen, your strong password is about as much use (from a security perspective) as the infamous chocolate teapot.
And if you have used this super-strong password on more than one site you are at an even greater risk of becoming a victim of data theft. With more than 6,474m email addresses in the wild for cyber criminals to use and 551m passwords stolen in security hacks the criminals job gets ever easier.
Use the Have I been Pwned website to see whether your passwords have been stolen by cyber criminals or nabbed in a data breach and read more about the risk, and how the criminals use this stolen data in aprevious post.
What’s the Solution
It’s actually fairly simple. It’s called two factor authentication [2FA] or multi-factor authentication. This is where another layer of authentication is required, beyond your user name and password.
In the early days of 2FA sites would send you a text with an access code so you could only log-in if you had your phone with you [and had a mobile signal]. This extra layer of security hit the cyber-criminals hard, until they realised that intercepting text messages was not particularly difficult if you were tech-savvy so something else was required.
The banks solved this problem by providing you with a device like the one to the right, this one’s from HSBC. At the website you enter your user-name and pass-code as normal, enter a PIN in the device and then enter the displayed number from the device in to your banks website. It may feel like a pain but it really does have a positive effect on the security of your on-line banking. A criminal needs a your user name/password, access to a device as well as your device PIN
Having a device for every website is pretty clunky so Microsoft and Google released authentication apps for Android and iPhones. The way they work is they generate a six digit code, as can be seen in the image on the right, and the website that you are looking to access requests this code after you have entered your user-name and password – as demonstrated in this screen-shot of my LastPass password manager.
All I have to do is launch my Authenticator App and enter the six digit password. For additional security, the code changes every 30 seconds or so
The final security solution is the physical “Key” such as this one from Yubikey. This is a USB device that simply plugs in to a USB port on your computer and allows you access to secured sites – or even your computer itself.
If you are worried by your security, or need any help with your internet activity, from a new website through social media and on to other online marketing opportunities then just send me an email – email@example.com or give me a call on 01793 238020
In other words, have you been pwned*. There have been millions of email addresses and passwords stolen in hack attacks and millions more that have been left exposed by incompetent website owners. However, it’s not just your email address that’s been stolen, your name will have gone with it, possibly your address and maybe even credit card (and other) data.
The stolen information is then made available for sale on the dark web and here’s a sample of the prices it can fetch
Credit/debit card number – $5-$11
With the CVV (3 digit) security code – + $5
“Fullz” (card, CVV, name, address, date of birth etc.) – $30
Bank account access – 10% of the credit balance in the account
Online Payment Services, such as PayPal – $20-$200
But how do you know whether your information is “out there” just waiting to be abused by cyber criminals? Well, I don’t know but I know a man who does, and he’s set up a rather useful website
Have I been Pwned?
There’s a website called Have I Been Pwned. This has been created by Troy Hunt, a Microsoft Regional Director & MVP (Microsoft Most Valuable Person for developer security). After data from a major cyber incident was “found” on the Dark Web Troy decided to put a database together – in his own time & at his own cost – as a way of allowing people to check whether their data was amongst stolen information and to “keep his hand in” from a programming perspective.
The site is now a comprehensive source of information about data hacks and data loss and is simple to use. All you have to do is enter your email address to see whether you have been “pwned”
And if you have been, as shown in the image above, it will also tell you which data breach (breaches) your email address has been found in.
Not every data breach leads to passwords being available. Some databases have encrypted passwords, making them worthless to the cyber criminal. However, many don’t and, like email addresses, there are millions (over 550) of passwords available on the Dark Web.
As he’s done with email addresses, Troy has now gathered all the stolen passwords that he can find and has created another searchable database dedicated to stolen passwords.
Why it’s important to know whether your passwords are available to cyber criminals.
At this point, all the criminals have is a list of emails and and another list of passwords. They may not know which ones go together and they also don’t know which websites these email addresses and passwords relate to.
But, from our perspective, there’s a significant weakness. This comes in to play because a lot of people use the same password for many websites simply because it’s easier to remember one password than many. This use of the same password makes things a lot easier for the cyber criminals to put our data to fraudulent use.
Let’s say, for example, that the criminals target Amazon. You might have your credit card details already stored against your account so if a cyber criminal can gain access, all they have to do is change a delivery address and Bob’s their uncle.
They’ll use a “Credential Stuffing Attack” which means that they’ll load all the email addresses in to one database and the passwords in to another and start the attack. First they pick their target (Amazon in my example) and use software that will add an email address to the log-in box. They’ll then turn to different software to try all the passwords in the password database to see whether there’s a match.
And once they’ve tried one email address they’ll automatically move on the next one. Once they’ve tried all combinations, and flagged those that work, they’ll move on to another site.
This sounds like a long, slow process but they’ll probably use a “Botnet” – a network of tens, hundreds or possibly thousands of hacked computers around the world that they have control over.
So, you should check “Have I Been Pwned” for both email addresses and passwords and if you’ve got a compromised password you should find the sites you use it on and change it – remembering to use a different one for each site.
Different, not similar – Password, PassWord, PAssword1960 and Pa55W0rd are NOT different to a cyber criminal. Criminals will also use these, and other variants of the world’s most popular passwords (2018’s shown in the image to the right) in their attempts to hack your accounts.
If you are concerned about your digital security, or need some help with your website, SEO or anything else online then just drop me an email, firstname.lastname@example.org , or give me a call on 01793 238020 for a free, no obligation conversation about your requirements
*Pwned – When a map designer in the online game called Warcraft beat another player he wanted to say “Player x has been owned”. Unfortunately, he mis-typed and actually said “Played x has been Pwned”. This is now a “thing”
You might have a website that’s been build using WordPress. No one will blame you, after all it’s free and has become probably the most used Content Management Systems (CMS) out there. In fact, in 2018 around one third of all websites were built on WordPress.
You might have built the site yourself or paid a developer to design and build it for you. You might not even know that your site has been built using WordPress.
It’s popular because it’s free and pretty easy to use – well it is when compared to some of the alternatives out there anyway. Although popular and free, it may not be the best and although it It is OK it does have a number of issues.
Because it’s so popular it’s become a top target for hackers. This means that the people behind WordPress have to be on their toes, always on the lookout for weaknesses & flaws that the hackers can exploit to break into a website and create mayhem.
When the WordPress developers come across such a flaw they create a patch and release a new version of WordPress. As an example, the current version is 4.7. However within the next couple of weeks there will probably be a new version. 4.7.1 and then 4.7.2 and so on and so on and so on, releasing updates as and when flaws are discovered.
You and your web developer need to be on top of this by making sure that you’re running the latest version of WordPress. The newer versions, if set-up properly, should update themselves automatically but you need to keep an eye on things just in case. Older versions had to updated manually, by clicking the ‘Update Now’ link so it all seems pretty straightforward. But it’s not!
Why things may not be as easy as they seem
Most websites using WordPress use a number of Plug-Ins, small pieces of software that add extra functionality to the website and make it easier to manage.
However, you need to exercise caution when updating – especially if you use a lot of plugins to manage different elements of your site because some of the plug-ins may not have been updated to work with the latest version of WordPress.
This means that hitting the WordPress Update link might cause a plugin to stop working and this could break your website.
But what happens if you don’t update WordPress?
Well, you might find that your website gets hacked and will start to do things that you would’t want to be associated with. It could start to download malware to the computers of all the people who visit your site – software that could monitor their keystrokes and pass banking details back to criminals in Eastern Europe or China, for example.
Or you could find – as one news website found out to their embarrassment – a lot of unsavoury spam being inserted into the first paragraph of every news story on their website.
How did this happen?
The company were very lax – their site was built using WordPress and was last updated in June 2012. Since then, there have been 114 updates to WordPress, some to improve performance and some to improve security.
By failing to keep up to date this gave the hackers and “easy in”. The hackers were able to use automated tools to find websites using WordPress and to find out which version was being used. From there, it would have been simple for the hackers to target a known weak spot and break in. From there, it would have been the work of moments to install their own spammy code.
What should their website manager do?
It’s easy to cure – all they have to do is identify and delete the malicious software and then update to the latest version of WordPress, although they are so behind with their updates that they might find their site gets broken by the update so they might be caught between a rock and a hard place.
If you are worried about WordPress, then don’t hesitate to get in touch. Give me a call on 01793 238020 or drop an email to email@example.com for a free, confidential and obligation free chat.
The “Dark Web” has been in the press frequently over the past couple of years, associated with tales of hacking, the sale of personal information, credit card data, drugs, weapons and other illicit items. However, there’s been very little by way of explanation as to what the dark web is and how you go there and this item looks to answer that, purely for research purposes of course.
A number of news stories have also referred to the “Deep Web” which has lead to a degree of confusion, as if the media consider the two to be interchangeable.
So, just to clear up any confusion here’s an explanation of the differences between the Deep and the Dark Web.
Let’s start at the top
The “Surface Web” is the web we all know and love, the websites we visit and the sites/pages that we find using Google/Bing/Yahoo and other search engines. And there’s the key, it’s only the parts of the internet that the search engines know about.
Just visit any website and click a few links, you’ll be doing the same thing that the search engines do, visiting websites and following links to find pages that they can present to you when you’re looking for things.
What is The Deep Web
Simply put, the Deep Web is just the area of the internet that is beyond the reach of the major search engines.
As an example, just go to www.britishairways.comand try to find a holiday to the Nautic Hotel between 7th and 14th October in Mallorca without using the search facilities.
It’s not that easy, in fact it you might find it confusing/difficult/impossible. You’re not alone, the search engines do to because they can’t get much further down than the first 3-4 layers. At least this is getting better because Google, Bing and the like are always looking to improve the way they manage such challenges but it’s still a struggle for them.
Websites can use code, called robots.txt, to actually block the search engines from certain pages so that they are difficult to find, deliberately. Websites with members only pages may choose to do this, for example.
As you can see, the Deep Web is neither illicit nor scary, it’s just out of reach of the major search engines.
What is the Dark Web
This is where things get really interesting. The Dark Web is a small portion of the web that is intentionally hidden and encrypted and which cannot be accessed through your typical web browser.
To access the Dark Web you need a specialised web browser that enables you to tap into the the TOR network. TOR, short for ‘The Onion Router’, so called because it uses many layers to both encrypt the data that moves around and to make it almost impossible for the authorities to trace internet activity back to a particular user and location. Great for security and anonymity which is why TOR was originally designed by US Intelligence agencies to enable American spies to securely communicate with their parent organisation and not reveal their location and identity.
The code was officially released to the public in 2004, and it’s still used by human rights groups and the like in repressive and unsafe countries to communicate with the outside world, but like almost everything it has also been subverted by those with criminal tendencies and put to a darker use.
You might recall that a couple of years ago the media was full of stories about a Dark Web website called Silk Road. This was like an eBay for criminals, a place where you could buy illegal items such as drugs & weapons and engage criminals to carry out illegal activities on your behalf, hacking for example.
The Silk Road was eventually closed down by the authorities but similar sites still exist if you know where to look and how to access them.
The first step is to download the TOR software, it’s free and pretty easy to find. However there’s no Dark Web version of Google – you have to know your way around if you want to find the illegal stuff – I don’t and wouldn’t broadcast it even if I did know.
I may not be able to help with your journey to the Dark Web but if your Surface Web needs improving or your Deep Web needs surfacing to make it easy to find, then get in touch, firstname.lastname@example.org or give me a call- 01793 238020 and I’ll dive in and see what I can do.
When “M” has finished spymastering for the day, or pops out for a cheeky Nandos, we always see M locking the “Top Secret” files away in the office safe. We know that’s so that no secrets will be discovered, even if an enemy spy (or the tea person) manages to gain access to the empty office.
In business, we need to be like “M”.
In a previous post I looked at Data Protection and the forthcoming General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR). However, I didn’t make it clear that the regulations don’t just apply to digital data stored on your IT systems and network but also apply to paper records too.
Anything that contains personal data, whether paper or digital, falls under the auspices of the Act, including the recordings from your CCTV cameras, phone systems (think “this call may be recorded for training purposes”) and biometric data – such as fingerprint or iris recognition systems used to unlock systems or grant access.
This means the files on your desk, the files in your filing cabinet, your paper archives as well as your electronic records, anything that includes personal data.
To start with, you need to ask yourself
Who has overall responsibility for the data you have and/or use?
What data are you holding, why are you holding it and where is it held?
Are your Privacy and Data Use Policies as good as they need to be?
How long do you need to keep data & how will you securely destroy it when you no longer need to keep it?
Who has legitimate access to it and who else can access it?
How secure is your building, your paper records and IT systems?
What happens out of normal business hours?
Can data be exported and removed without authorisation (to a USB key for example)?
Is your network connected to the internet and how secure is your connection?
Can your network be accessed remotely – is this secure?
Is your electronic data encrypted so, in the event of a breach, data cannot be accessed and used?
Can your network prevent unauthorised intrusion (hacking)?
How do you manage Subject Access Requests, (when someone requests to see the data you hold about them)?
How will you manage a data breach, whether it’s a hack, unauthorised file copy or unauthorised removal of paper records?
So, how can I help?
I can put you in touch with reliable IT companies and trusted partners
that will be able to inventory all of your IT and data assets.
who’ll test your network to see how secure it is and whether hackers are likely to be able to gain access
who will secure your network from external threats (hacking) and ensure that your remote access requirements are reliable, easy to use and secure.
who will help you secure your data inside the organisation and set things up so that only appropriately authorised employees can access the data they need to do their job and no more.
who will secure your network so that it’s almost impossible for data to be copied onto a USB key or external hard drive and removed from the organisation
who will put transparent encryption in place which means that it doesn’t slow anything down but is so strong that only GCHQ or the NSA would be likely to crack it.
Take the first step now, by giving me a call on 01793 238020 or emailing email@example.com to find out how I can help mitigate data security risks and start preparing for GDPR guidelines.
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is the name given to the new law that will come into effect on 25 May 2018 to provide added protection and security to the data that businesses hold on, and about, individuals. It will replace the UK’s Data Protection Act (DPA).
At the end of this post you’ll find a simple glossary of terms for reference
Why do we need the GDPR?
There has been a huge change in the amount of data, and the way we use it, since the Data Protection Act came into effect 20 years ago.
Back then, a home PC was a rarity, now it’s pretty much the norm and households typically have multiple devices (PCs/laptops, phones, tablets, smart TVs and other internet connected devices) whilst the majority of businesses are totally reliant on IT and data.
As a consequence of these changes the laws relating to data needed updating and there was a strong drive to have common data protection laws across the EU due to the increased globalisation of business. Brexit will have no impact on the new regulations
What impact will the GDPR have on my business?
There will be a need to ensure that the way you collect, store, manage, use and destroy data is in compliance with the new regulations and there may be a requirement to employ new staff, outsource services or allocate new responsibilities to existing employees.
People & Accountability
DATA PROTECTION OFFICER
To comply with the new regulations you may need to allocate data protection responsibilities to employees or employ a new member of staff, depending on the size of your business and the data protection requirements placed on it. The following businesses MUST appoint a Data Protection Officer (DPO)
Businesses whose core activities involve large scale systematic monitoring and profiling activities
Businesses whose core activities involve large scale processing of special categories of data such as ethnic origin, political opinions or religious beliefs
DPOs can be employed or outsourced but must report to the highest level of management.
Current law does not apply to pure data processors, i.e serviced providers who only deal with data as directed by their customer, only applying to data controllers. If you are a mailing house which accepts data from a client for producing mail shots (land mail or email) for example
GDPR introduces direct rules and accountabilities for data processors, including
Keeping records of data processed
Designating a Data Protection Office (where required)
Notifying the Data Controller where there has been a breach
Under GDPR, data controllers can only use data processors “providing sufficient guarantees to implement the appropriate technical and organisational measures so that the processing meets the requirements of GDPR and ensures the protection of the rights of data subjects”
Accountability and the GDPR
Accountability is all about considering risks and demonstrating that you have considered, and managed, data protection risks. You will need to have clear policies in place to show that you meet the required standards and should establish a culture of monitoring, reviewing and assessing your data processing procedures
Privacy Impact Assessments
Businesses will be required to carry out a data protection impact assessment where carrying out any processes that use new technology that is likely to result in a high risk to data subjects, required in particular where there will be automated processing (including profiling) and on which decisions which affect the data subject and for large scale processing of personal data
Privacy By Design
Businesses must take data protection requirements into account from the inception of any new technology, product, or service, that involves the processing of personal data, with an ongoing requirement to keep those measures up to date.
Notification of Breach
The existing DPA requires an organisation to notify (register and pay a fee) the ICO that they will be processing personal data. This will no longer be a requirement under the GDPR, replaced by an obligation on the Data Controller and Data Processor to maintain detailed documentation, recording;
Purpose of processing
Lists of data subjects
Categories of data
However, if you have fewer than 250 employees, the requirements are less onerous and you’ll only need to comply if your processing is “likely to result in high risk to individuals, the processing is not occasional, or includes sensitive personal data.
Because the processing of employee data is likely to involve sensitive personal data there will be an obligation on all organisations to maintain documentation, no matter what their size.
With the removal of registration and fee payment, the ICO loses their main source of income and this could make them keener to catch organisations in breach and fine them.
Under current legislation there is no requirement to notify the ICO should you suffer a data security breach. This changes under the GDPR with the introduction of a requirement to report data security breaches to
Data Controllers (if a Data Processor breaches)
Regulators – if a Data Controller breaches and the result is a risk to the rights and freedoms of individuals – without undue delay (within 72 hours of discovery if feasible)
Affected Data Subjects – where the breach could leave them open to financial loss, for example. If the risk is high, this notification must be without undue delay.
When does the GDPR come in to law?
25 May 2018
Where will the GDPR apply?
Current data protection laws apply if you are located in the EU, or make use of equipment located in the EU, such as servers. The GDPR applies whether or not you are located in an EU country – it applies if you offer goods or services to EU residents or if you monitor their behavior.
If you want to transfer data beyond the EU (if you use a server based in the US to do your email marketing, for example) you need to ensure that the destination country has been recognised as having “adequate or equivalent” data protection regulations and you will have to ensure that suitable safeguards are in place to ensure the protection and security of the data you are transferring.
What happens if I don’t comply with the GDPR?
Currently, fines across the EU for a Data Protection Breach vary greatly with the UK having a maximum fine of £500,000 for a breach of the DPA.
One of the goals of the GDPR is to ensure that fines are consistent across national borders and to impose a significant increase in fines to emphasize the importance of good data management and security.
The new fines are to be split across two tiers
Up to 2% of annual, worldwide, turnover of the preceding financial year or EU10m (whichever is the greater) for violations relating to internal record keeping, data processor contracts, data security and breach notification, data protection officers and data protection by design and default
Up to 4% of annual, worldwide, turnover of the preceding financial year or EU20m (whichever is the greater) for violations relating to breaches of the data protection principles, conditions for consent, data subjects rights and international data transfers
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) will also have increased enforcement powers and grounds for seeking judicial remedies under the GDPR, including a power to carry out audits and to require (demand) information to be provided and obtain access to premises
Practical Steps to prepare for the GDPR
Ensure that you have the resources to plan and implement GDPR requirements
Identify all existing data systems and the personal data processed
Review existing compliance programs and update/expand as required to meet the requirements of GDPR
Ensure you have clear records of all data processing activities and that the records are available
When using Data Processors, ensure you include terms in your agreement relating to immediate notification of any data breach.
Develop and implement a data breach response plan and have templated notifications so that staff can act promptly
Put internal reporting procedures in place, have an internal breach register and train staff on notification and use
Ensure that you have sufficient resources to implement required changes
Consider appointing a DPO
Assess whether the organisation uses consent to justify processing
Develop, and implement, a policy on data storage and retention
Review contractual arrangements with Data Processors
Consider Data Protection when developing new technologies, services and goods and keep clear records
Ensure all policies and procedures are available and written in clear, concise and easily understood language
Consider how you will gain consent for the use of the ata you hold, and use, for advertising, marketing and/or social media
Examine your Privacy notices now and start updating them
Review privacy notices and other “fair processing” information given to employees
Review employment contracts, handbooks and policies. Is contractual “consent” sought?
Ensure that you can respond to Subject Access Requests within 1 month (no admin fee will apply under GDPR)
Train staff on data protection responsibilities
The GDPR will have a wide reaching impact on most businesses, both large and small, which make use of data within the organisation.
Within the GDPR there are many undefined phrases, such as what counts as “large scale” and what is “new technology” and it is likely that these will only be determined as part of case law i.e. when a company is prosecuted for a suspected breach and their defence (or prosecution) need an accurate description of such terms.
It is likely that things will change as we get closer to implementation. However, you should start your preparation as soon as possible and the ICO has published a useful leaflet called “12 Steps to Take Now” which provides more helpful advice.
I’m a digital marketer and SEO professional, not a legal practice. As a consequence, this should be used as a guide to the GDPR and legal support sought to ensure that your business is in compliance.
Glossary of Data Protection and GDPR Terms
Consent – Permission to collect, store and use personal data
Data Controller – A person, or persons, determined the purposes for which, and the manner in which any personal data are, or are to be, processed
Data Portability – The ability to move data from organisation to organisation, or across nation states
DPA – Data Protection Act, the regulations that the GDPR replaces
Data Processor – Any person who processes data on behalf of the data controller
Data Protection Officer – Person responsible for the oversight of organisational data protection strategy and implementation to ensure compliance with the GDPR
Data subject – The person to whom a data set relates (you and I)
GDPR – General Data Protection Regulations. The name given to the new regulations relating to the way we collect, store, use and destroy data
ICO – Information Commissioner’s Office – body responsible for upholding GDPR
Personal Data – anything clearly seen as personal, including name, address, phone number but also including IP addresses, cookie identifiers and UDID (Unique device Identifiers). Expressions of opinion about an individual also count as personal data so you need to be careful what you say about colleagues or clients in emails
Right to be Forgotten – The right to request the complete deletion of all personal data.
Subject Access Request – A request that an individual can make to find out the data that an organisation has relating to them.
And if you are struggling with your GDPR then give me a call on 01793 238020 or email firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll do everything I can do to help.
The recent “WannaCry” Ransomware attack that hit the NHS (and more than 200,000 other victims across 150 countries) has focused attention on the CryptoCurrency called Bitcoin.
There have been numerous calls to outlaw Bitcoin and other CryptoCurrencies but there’s a lot of mis-understanding and a belief that they are only used to fund criminal activities.
In fact, over the last couple of years there have been numerous articles in the mainstream media about Bitcoin. Most have focused on their use by the criminal fraternity, whether for the payment of Ransomware ransoms to decrypt company data through to the purchasing of illegal weapons and drugs on the Dark Web, including The Silk Road, a dark web site where drugs, weapons and illegal services were traded online – before the site was taken down by the FBI in 2014.
However, Bitcoin, and other digital currencies, are now experiencing a significant uplift in their use for legitimate purposes and we thought that this is an ideal time to send out an explanatory email so that you can be better informed.
We’ll be looking at
What is a digital/virtual currency?
What is a Bitcoin?
What is Distributed Ledger Technology / Blockchain?
How do I get digital money?
How can I spend digital money?
Where do I keep my Bitcoin?
How safe/secure is my digital money bank?
What is a digital/virtual currency?
A virtual currency is simply a digital form of money for online transactions. Virtual currencies only exist electronically, there’s no bank notes or coins and no bank deposits, hence their description as a Virtual Currency.
Virtual Currencies bring innovation and benefits to more traditional forms of banking and financial systems. Transactions are much cheaper and faster with international payments being much simplified due to freedom from exchange rate worries and bank transfer fees.
This means there are no currency exchange barriers, digital currencies are genuinely international, unaffected by national boundaries and traditional currency issues and associated exchange rate issues – until you want to exchange them for traditional cash.
The most well known Virtual Currency is Bitcoin although other examples include Dogecoin, Ether, Dash, Litecoin and Stellar.
In the early days, Virtual Currencies were seen as a way to pay for online transactions but these days you can use them as a form of payment in physical stores. There are even Bitcoin ATMs where you can buy and sell Bitcoins from your account – there are 20 in London alone and a total of 60 across the UK
What is a Bitcoin
All digital currencies only exist in the virtual form, being recorded in a public Distributed Ledger which is basically a secure database of digital currencies and which holds a record of every Bitcoin transaction
Bitcoins were one of the earliest forms of virtual currency, first introduced in 2008. In 2013 Bloomberg effectively endorsed the legitimacy of Bitcoin by testing Bitcoin on its trading terminals and later that year the US Federal Reserve gave their apparent blessing, stating that Bitcoin “may hold long-term promise, particularly if the innovations promote a faster, more secure and more efficient payment system” and is the most well known form of Digital Currency.
In 2014 our own HMRC classifies Bitcoin as assets or private money which means that no VAT will be charged on the mining of, or exchange of Bitcoin.
Later that year, Microsoft started accepting payment made by Bitcoin and a 2015 HMRC report on digital currencies further marked the acceptance of Virtual Currencies by mainstream financial services.
What is the Blockchain
The Blockchain is a database that records all Bitcoin transactions. It’s basically a distributed database, is totally separate from the banking industry and free from central interference.
Transactions are recorded in the form of payer x sends y bitcoins to payee z and payments are verified and validated and added to the Blockchain
How do I get digital money
Believe it or not, it’s possible to make your own, legitimate, Bitcoin through a technique called “mining” which uses high performance computers to carry out sophisticated cryptological processing to effectively make new currency that’s then added to the Blockchain.
However, it’s not as easy at it sounds and most people simply buy their Bitcoins, and other virtual currencies, through more traditional routes – including the Bitcoin ATMs mentioned earlier in this article
How can I spend digital money
You can use Bitcoins to purchase traditional currencies, products and services and you can acquire Bitcoins in a similar manner.
Small amounts of Bitcoin can be traded. They are the millibitcoin (0.001 bitcoin), microbitcoin (0.0000001 bitcoin) and the satoshi which is the smallest amount and named after the inventor (0.00000001 bitcoin)
As noted earlier, transactions follow payer x sends y bitcoins to payee z format. Although transactions on the Blockchain are open to inspection, the reason why Bitcoin is so attractive to criminals is that transactions are pseudonymous. This means that “payer x” is only identified by his or her Bitcoin address.
In 2014, Bitcoin Payment Service Provider (A PayPal for Bitcoin) started accepting Bitcoin payments for tickets and concession sales at the St. Petersburg Bowl in the USA and in 2015 Barclays started to accept Bitcoin, the first UK high street bank to do so. Over 100,000 establishments were accepting payment by Bitcoin by the end of 2015.
You can buy technology from Aria and Dell, pre-owned technology, media and games from CeX around the UK, you can sign up for language courses, buy a beer and a meal in a pub, book theatre tickets, accommodation, home and garden furniture, new windows and much more – full list of UK companies accepting Bitcoin here.
In 2013 a Bitcoin was worth $13 and at the time of writing a Bitcoin would cost $1,033.43 ( £830.81) having peaked in 2017 at $1216.73.
The downside is the lack of protection because virtual currencies lien outside of the established banking regulations, Bitcoin users are not protected by refund rights or chargebacks and transactions are non-reversible.
Where do I keep my Bitcoin?
Your Digital Wallet stores all the information required to transact bitcoins. Although they’re frequently described as a place to hold, or store your Bitcoins, the reality is that Bitcoins ONLY exist in the Blockchain and your Digital Wallet simply stores your credentials to access your Bitcoin holdings.
It’s similar to the way your debit card doesn’t store your money but allows you to access your account and arrange for the transfer for funds from your account to that of the seller.
How safe/secure is my digital money bank
Because your Virtual Currency is held centrally, there’s actually nothing to steal, in the conventional sense.
However, your Wallet needs to be secured. You need to use a strong password – and don’t forget it because there’s no password recovery routine. Lose your password and you lose your Bitcoin. You should keep your Wallet backed up, preferably in a number of locations, online, USB etc. Just as you would for your other computer data
Is traditional money dead?
Far from it, and it’s probably a long way from dying simply because each country likes to have it’s own currency regulations in place and the fear associated with the disruption that Virtual Currencies will cause.
As a result, banks are making it easier for customers to spend their traditional money. We say the introduction of cheques – now on the decline.
Credit and payment cards that facilitate the easy transfer of money. Internet banking, making it easier to manage our own funds.
Contactless payments speeding up transactions, Apple and Android Pay., facilitating payment by simply tapping your phone on a payment terminal and the migration of these services to Smart Watches.
Soon, you’ll have contactless payment capability added to pieces of jewellery (A payment wedding ring anyone?) followed by the embedding of a suitable chip under the skin of a fingertip.
However, as world governments become more centralised, the benefits of Virtual Currencies may begin to outweigh the pressures (and costs involved) to maintain more traditional Fiat based monetary systems and all we can suggest is that you watch this space.
And if you want some help, than give me a call on 01793 238020 or send an email to email@example.com and I’ll do everything I can to help/