18th Aug 2017
TalkTalk has been fined £100,000 by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) for its failure to protect customer data, risking it falling into the hands of scammers.
The ICO investigation found that the broadband provider breached the Data Protection Act after it allowed staff to have access to large quantities of consumer data. A lack of adequate security measures then left this open to exploitation by rogue employees.
Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham said: “TalkTalk may consider themselves to be the victims here. But the real victims are the 21,000 people whose information was open to abuse by the malicious actions of a small number of people.
“TalkTalk should have known better and they should have put their customers first.”
The breach initially came to light in 2014 when TalkTalk started getting customer complaints regarding scam calls. Customers reported that scammers were able to quote their account numbers and addresses.
The ICO investigation that followed found the issue lay with a TalkTalk portal through which customer information could be accessed. One of the companies with access to the portal was Wipro, a multinational IT services company in India that resolved high-level complaints and addressed network coverage problems on TalkTalk’s behalf.
A specialist investigation by TalkTalk identified three Wipro accounts that had been used to gain unauthorised and unlawful access to the personal data of up to 21,000 customers.
The ICO fined TalkTalk because it breached the seventh principle of the Data Protection Act. It did not have appropriate technical or organisational measures in place to keep personal data secure.
The investigation found that TalkTalk should have been aware of the risks and that the misuse of personal data was likely to cause substantial damage or distress.