What to do if your data was breached?

With millions of people in the UK suffering personal data breaches from companies that have had data stolen by hackers, it’s more important than ever to get control of your digital footprint and protect yourself.

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Why should I delete the data?

Many people don’t even know if their data has appeared in a breach. So what should you do if you have been exposed in a data breach and how can you protect yourself from possible data breaches in future? Rightly can help.

What is a data breach?

A personal data breach happens when either accidental or unlawful loss, alteration, destruction or disclosure of data occurs. An accidental data breach can happen when, for example, someone sends your data to a third party by mistake. Unlawful data breaches include hackers breaking into a system and stealing data. Then they can use stolen data to carry out phishing attacks or other scams, or to carry out identity theft.

Who’s been breached?

Lots and lots of organisations are suffering from data breaches every day. According to the RPC, the international law firm, 42.2m people in the UK had their financial data compromised in a breach last year, which is up 1,777%! Here are a couple of high profile examples:

  • EasyJet: Several large data breaches have occurred in the past few years. On 19 May 2020, EasyJet announced they were the victim of one of the UK's largest-ever data breaches. Around nine million easyJet customers had their data accessed, including names, email addresses, travel details and, in some cases, their credit card details.
  • Funky Pigeon: More recently Funky Pigeon experienced a ‘cyber incident’. The WH Smith-owned card site reported the breach to “the relevant regulators and stopped taking orders while they investigated the extent to which any personal data - specifically names, addresses, email addresses and personalised card and gift designs - has been accessed”.

In 2022 already a number of high profile brands have been attacked:

  • Coca-Cola: In April 2022 Russian-linked hackers stole a huge amount of data from Coca-Cola including user accounts, passwords, financial data and now are selling it for $640,000.
  • Crypto.com: A serious breach took place in which 500 accounts were targeted, resulting in $33 million being stolen.
  • Microsoft: The company was targeted by a ‘hacking collective’. Although Microsoft claims no customer data was stolen and only one account breached, it revealed that the thieves carried off certain Microsoft material.
  • News Corp: The company claims no customer data was compromised, but the hackers made off with journalists’ emails.
  • Red Cross: This looks like a political attack of unknown origin. Thousands of people had their data stolen and over half a million records were compromised.

Has my data been breached?

Did you know:

  • If a company suffers a data breach, they are supposed to inform anyone that has been affected
  • In cases where hackers are involved, an average of 224 days can pass between a company being hacked and actually finding out that it has happened
  • During that time, the hackers can be exploiting the data they’ve stolen
  • You can find out whether your personal data has appeared in a data breach and been compromised online.

If you find out that your personal data has been involved in a data breach, go to the company's website to find out what’s been lost, or call them using a number from the official website. Don’t respond to potentially fake emails.

Find out what kind of data has been compromised and then take steps to keep yourself safe.

What should I do if my data has been breached?

If you become aware that your personal data has been involved in a data breach:

  • Change and strengthen your password right away
  • Contact the organisation that has been breached through official channels
  • Block spam emails and numbers
  • Never click on links in emails that you aren’t completely sure about
  • Always keep different passwords for every website or online service that you use
  • Consider the use of a Password Manager to help look after your passwords
  • Maybe use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) that will hide your IP address
  • Stay alert and keep an eye on your accounts for any strange activity

You can find more Rightly tips to protect yourself.

You may be able to claim compensation if your data has been compromised. The amount of compensation you can claim for a data breach will depend on the nature of the breach and what impact it had on you.

How can Rightly help protect you?

The best way to protect yourself is to get your data removed from as many companies as possible. It’s really important to remember that getting your data deleted is not the same thing as simply unsubscribing from a marketing database. Even after you’ve unsubscribed, most companies will still keep your data. If they hold your data, it can be stolen. So it’s much more effective to make the company erase it completely.

Rightly Protect is a service that enables you to work out who has your data and to send a data erasure request to as many companies as you want, simply and quickly. And it’s free.

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