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From BA to Butlin’s: cyber breaches highlight importance of data protection

British consumers have been rocked by several high-profile data breaches in recent months. Last month it emerged that up to 34,000 holidaymakers at Butlin’s resorts may have had their personal information stolen by hackers. A few weeks later, British Airways admitted its security systems had been breached in a malicious criminal attack on its website, which led to hundreds of customers having their personal and financial details compromised. 

These incidents have brought into clear focus the need for companies – even large, reputable ones – to check their IT systems regularly to make sure they are robust enough to withstand an unexpected cyber attack. Failure to do so could cause several problems; not least, damage to corporate reputation. BA and Butlin’s were both forced into issuing hastily written media statements to reassure customers that everything was being done to tackle the threat and protect information stored about them.

Another key problem is the hit in the pocket that these breaches could cause. Whilst there’s no suggestion that BA and Butlin’s have incurred significant financial losses as a result of the cyber attacks, there have been several other instances where this has happened. Data breaches could dent customer confidence and deter people from purchasing goods and services from a company, even if they have been doing so for several years previously.

Cyber attacks could also get companies in trouble with the law. Data protection and privacy legislation requires firms to manage the security of all personal data that they hold. If this security is compromised, either by accident or by design, a company could face legal action and possibly a hefty fine if it’s found that appropriate security measures haven’t been deployed.

All is not lost, however, if companies take a few simple steps to get their IT security house in order. Robust firewall security and locking down access to networks is necessary. Automatic encryption of key data and monitoring networks can reduce the likelihood of phishing attacks and viruses from impacting on day-to-day business. A simple multi-site disaster recovery solution can ensure that data is readily available in the event of network outages, power interruptions or hardware and software faults.

Companies should also have a clear view of who has access to key company data, and regularly review usernames and passwords to ensure they are sufficiently complicated to deter hackers. In short, they should have a proper data security policy in place and make sure every member of staff knows how to implement it.

There’s no 100% fool-proof solution that can totally eliminate risk – but companies have a much better chance of protecting themselves if they take these small but vital steps.

Opal has a dedicated disaster recovery solution to meet any business need, and can also offer automated offsite backup for users’ data.  We can deploy and manage all areas of your network to maintain full data integrity of your business and ensure you can operate around the clock.

Opal can help you protect your business from cyber attacks. For more information, visit www.opal-it.co.uk or call 0330 2233 011.

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