How Data Leakage Leads to Legal Prosecution

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You’ve probably heard about the Pandora Papers and the implications of this enormous leak of private documents, with secret billionaire property owners being exposed worldwide.

Leaking sensitive data and using it for purposes other than those for which it was intended is considered a crime in the UK. It’s vital for you and your corporation to know the risks, so read on to learn more.

What is data leakage?

While they don’t get as much media attention as data breaches, leaks can be just as damaging for your business. Often an inside job, data leakage involves the sharing of confidential information with unauthorised recipients.

Understanding the Data Protection Act 2018

The Data Protection Act 2018 is the implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) to ensure that every corporation, small business, or individual follows the same rules – called ‘data protection principles.’

This makes everyone equally responsible for making sure that information is:

  • Used fairly, transparently, and lawfully
  • Only used for specific, outlined purposes
  • Only used in a way that is relevant and necessary
  • Kept up to date and accurate
  • Not kept longer than necessary
  • Protected against unlawful or unauthorised processing or access, and handled with security

Protecting your business

Keeping your company clear of any suspicious activity with sensitive data and ensuring that no allegations come your way is possible with thorough GDPR training to ensure knowledge of the risks and consequences.

If you’re unlucky enough to be subject to a data leak, seek professional legal advice to navigate the consequences and necessary steps to take against the guilty party. Attempting to tackle it alone could be more detrimental than productive.

Types of data leaks

If a business is subject to a data leak, it means that someone within the organisation deliberately or accidentally makes private company information public. There are three most frequently seen causes of data leaks:

  1. Misconfigurations by IT staff: with 60% of businesses finding new security gaps in their networks after the transition to remote work, the pandemic has made companies much more vulnerable to technical staff errors and slip ups.
  2. Malicious or careless employee actions: staff can be subject to legal action if they deliberately mishandle sensitive data.
  3. System errors: data can be accidentally exposed down to system or software issues.

Take Cambridge Analytica, for example – the firm was accused of using the personal data of 50 million Facebook users to influence the US presidential election. Facebook was fined the maximum data-protection watchdog penalty of £500,000 for its part in the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

Data that is intended to be private should be protected and should not be leaked: it’s everyone’s responsibility to make sure it doesn’t happen in your business.