Author: Laura Spencer

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Continuing Professional Development (“CPD”) Webinars

Anson Evaluate are back with a brand new series of premium Continuous Professional Development (“CPD”) webinars.

These webinars are available and suitable for all and will be focused on the following subject areas:

  1. Cyber security, including ransomware, targeted cyber fraud, cyber breach response and best defences.
  2. Data Protection, including data protection in the UK post Brexit, analysis of data protection enforcement by regulators, international data transfers, Data Protection Impact Assessments (“DPIA”) and data subject rights. 
  3. Digital Economy, including libel, business promotion, Digital Technology Market Regulation as well as Blockchain, Cryptocurrency and NFTs.

Heather Anson, Anson Evaluate’s managing director, will be working up with Digital Law’s managing director Peter Wright to deliver these webinars to you in 3 rounds, beginning on 5th May 2022.

Pricing:

£45 per webinar (per organisation).

Discounted prices are available for those who purchase the full round of webinars, for example all 4 Cyber Security webinars (Ransomware, Targeted Cyber Fraud, Cyber Breach Response and the Best Defence).

> For each full webinar round £145.

> For all 3 webinar rounds (12 singular webinars) £395.

Please note that the full courses are not available for purchase directly through the platform therefore, if you would like to purchase a full round or all 3 rounds please email Events@AnsonEvaluate.com for more information.

Registration for each webinar is listed below its respective title and description.
For more information and to register your interest, email us at Events@AnsonEvaluate.com

Round 1 – Cyber Security (total of 4 webinars)

Webinar 1: Ransomware (5th May 2022)

The first recorded example of ransomware was in the late 1980’s which proves that ransomware isn’t anything new. However, over the last 3 years alone there has been a drastic rise in the number of companies who have fallen victim to ransomware attacks. Not only have such attacks become more common, they have also become a lot more sophisticated, even since the commonly known WannaCry and NotPetya attacks back in 2017. 

This webinar aims to take real life case studies as well as expert knowledge to better your companies response and defence mechanisms to such attacks. As well as this, the webinar will answer the following key questions:

  1. What are the drivers behind the growth in ransomware attacks?
  2. What should boards be doing to manage the risk from ransomware attacks?
  3. Should you feed the “beast” and pay the ransom?
  4. In the case of a ransomware breach response, who do you need to do and who do you need to notify?
  5. What counter measures and proposals have been put forward by governments and legislators around the world?

Webinar 2: Targeted Cyber Fraud (12th May 2022)           

According to official statistics from the National Cyber Security Centre (“NCSC”) in their 2021 Cyber Security Breaches Survey, the most common by far are those commonly known as phishing attacks, followed by impersonation. Both of these attacks fit into the targeted cyber fraud category.

As well as referring to real life case studies of companies/firms like yourself who have been the target of such attack, this webinar will focus on the following: 

  • The different modes of attack including email, SMS, instant messaging and social media.
  • How to spot a potentially fraudulent communication.
  • What to do if the worst happens, including law enforcement and notification.
  • The best methods of defence.

Webinar 3: Cyber Breach Response (19th May 2022)

The previous 2 webinars in this cyber security series have focused on the impact cyber security attacks can have as well as preventative measures that can be implemented to avoid such attacks being successful. However, this webinar will focus on your response should the worst case scenario occur and will cover the following key points:

  • Case studies, including examples of some of the best and worst cyber breach responses.
  • What needs to be in your breach response plan.
  • Testing and simulation of your breach response plan.
  • When a cyber breach should be communicated and who with, for example, internal comms, customers, clients and wider PR.
  • Cyber liability and insurance.
  • Working with law enforcement.
  • Legal and regulatory risks and responsibilities.

Webinar 4: Best Defence (26th May 2022)

Having technical security measures and systems in place, as well as staff awareness and training, are some of the best defence measures of any cyber security attack. This webinar will look at real life case studies of companies that have managed to limit the impact of such attacks based on the strategies they have implemented, whilst also covering the following key points:

  • Cyber policies, procedures and internal governance.
  • Identifying risks and pinch points.
  • The risks associated with remote working and working from home.
  • Technical security measures and systems that can be implemented to reduce risk.
  • Insurance.
  • War games.
  • Training and assessment.

Round 2 – Data Protection (total of 4 webinars)

Webinar 1: Data Protection Regulation in the UK Post Brexit (Date TBC)

The General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”) is incorporated into UK law by the UK Data Protection Act 2018 (“DPA’18”). Consequently, the principles of GDPR still apply in the UK despite the UK’s departure from the European Union (“EU”) at the very end of 2020. This means that compliance with data protection hasn’t really changed since Brexit except for when it comes to data sharing and data transfers to and from the EU. This webinar will first summarise the UK GDPR and DPA’18, including discussing its key principles, before moving on to covering the following points:

  • The EU-UK Data Adequacy Decision from the European Commissioner.
  • The Information Commissioners Role (“ICO”) in regulation and enforcement of data protection in the UK. 
  • An introduction to Codes of Conduct.
  • UK Departure of Culture, Media and Sport consultation “Data: a new direction” and the UK National Data Strategy.

Webinar 2: International Data Transfers – EU, US and the rest of the world (Date TBC)

Webinar 1 focuses on data transfers to and from the EU since Brexit. However, this webinar goes beyond this, discussing both transfers to and from the UK as well as the rest of the world. Therefore, this webinar will cover the following key points:

  • The implications Brexit has had on data transfers, including the EU-UK Data Adequacy decision from the European Commissioner.
  • Schrems II decision and the implications it had on the EU-US Privacy Shield.
  • An introduction to Data Transfer Agreements, including how and when they should be used, as well as what they need to contain.
  • An overview of Standard Contractual Clauses (“SCCs”), Binding Corporate Rules (“BCRs”) and Codes of Conduct.

Webinar 3: What goes into a Data Protection Impact Assessment (“DPIA”)? (Date TBC)

DPIA’s are an important part of risk assessment and analysis when it comes to launching a new business venture or simply carrying out a new processing activity. This webinar will not only discuss what a DPIA is and when it should be carried out, it will go into detail about the different topic areas that should be included in a DPIA.

The key points this webinar will cover are as follows:

  • When a DPIA should be carried out.
  • What a DPIA should include.
  • The purposes of and reasons for carrying out a DPIA, including discovery and assessment, and identifying and reducing risks.
  • Ownership and responsibility of the DPIA carried out as well as what to do with its recommendations.
  • Recommendations when it comes to the ongoing regular review and updating of your risk management system.

Webinar 4: Data Subject Rights (Date TBC)

Under the GDPR and DPA’18 all data subjects have a range of rights relating to the processing of their personal data. This webinar will look at each of these rights in turn before moving onto discussing how each of these rights should be responded to, including the following key points:

  • An overview of the 5 main rights a data subject has.
  • How to answer a Subject Access Request as well as the fair and reasonable use of exemptions.
  • How to ensure the right of rectification is performed correctly.
  • How to demonstrate the “right to be forgotten” in practice.
  • How and when to apply the right to data portability.
  • How to respond to a request for the restriction of processing.
  • Other rights regarding automated decision making including profiling.

Round 3 – Digital Economy (total of 4 webinars)

Webinar 1: Libel (Date TBC)

Where exactly do users stand with comments they make on social media? Cases over the last decade in the UK suggest that you are not free to say absolutely anything you like. While some users fall foul of the Terms of Service operated by social media companies and find their accounts blocked, some litigants with deep pockets have taken those who have made comments that they felt were libelous to court and in many instances have won. Consequently, it is important to think carefully before posting a tweet or making a comment on Facebook but evidence suggests that this message is still not filtering through to the majority of users. This webinar will explore the law as it stands with reference to leading cases and key legislation as well as posts that have featured cases before the employment tribunal.

  • Examples of libel cases, including Arlene Foster and Christian Jessen.
  • How did we get here? – the landmark cases of The Lord McAlpine of West Green v Sally Bercow.
  • Posts and the police – Offences under The Communications Act.
  • Examples of social media posts ending up in the employment tribunal.

Webinar 2: Business Promotion (Date TBC)

Marketing through social media remains the cheapest and easiest way to target potential customers in volume and has become a valuable promotional tool for many businesses. However, the potential legalities surrounding its use are significantly more complex than more traditional forms of marketing that used to involve advertising agencies, newspapers and tv. Cutting out the middle man advertising agent means that a business may run an advert or sponsored post that could fall foul of anything from advertising standards regulation to contravening basic copyright law. This webinar will explore examples of businesses that got it wrong and in some cases have destroyed their reputations through social media posts that went wrong, as well as some of the problems that can arise when high profile celebrities recommend a product or service.

  • Social media business pages, content and ownership.
  • Preserving digital copyright.
  • Handling online customer reviews and ratings.
  • Disputes with social media platforms.
  • Celebrity product use and endorsements

Webinar 3: Digital Technology Market Regulation (Date TBC)

  • EU Digital Markets Act  (“DMA”)
  • EU Digital Services Act (“DSA”)
  • Regulation and Enforcement under DMA & DSA in EU member states
  • UK Digital Technology Market Regulation – Competition and Markets Authority (“CMA”)

Webinar 4: Blockchain, Cryptocurrency, NFTs (Date TBC)

  • What is Blockchain?
  • Definition of a Cryptocurrency
  • Cryptocurrency Regulation
  • Non-Fungible Tokens

Meet the Speakers!

Dr. Heather Anson

Heather is Managing Director of Anson Evaluate Ltd, a specialist Regulatory Compliance and Training Provider in the UK. Anson Evaluate provides a range of compliance services including assessments and training. She believes in training as a key to compliance and provides this service through a variety of in person training seminars, webinars, online e-learning courses and podcasts. Her company clients include a wide range of corporations advising on regulatory matters across multiple jurisdictions in Europe, the United States, Middle East, China and Malaysia. Heather is also a specialist Consultant for the niche law firm Digital Law UK.

Peter Wright

Peter is a solicitor and leading expert in Data Protection, Cyber Security Regulation and Social Media Law. As Managing Director of Digital Law, he has been advising clients across the UK, US, Europe, Middle East and Asia for over a decade. He is the former Chair of the GDPR Working Group of the Law Society of England and Wales and is also a form Chair of the Technology and Law Committee of the Law Society. He is also author of the Law Society Cyber Security Toolkit and has co-authored a manual on practical GDPR compliance.

by Laura Spencer Laura Spencer No Comments

Romance Fraud: A take on the ‘Tinder Swindler’

Starting with the basics, what is ‘romance fraud’?

According to Action Fraud (https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/a-z-of-fraud/dating-fraud) romance scams involve people being duped into sending money to criminals who go to great lengths to gain their trust and convince them that they are in a genuine relationship. They use language to manipulate, persuade and exploit so that requests for money do not raise alarm bells. These requests might be highly emotive, such as criminals claiming they need money for emergency medical care, or to pay for transport costs to visit the victim if they are overseas. Scammers will often build a relationship with their victims over time.

One of the best, current examples of romance fraud, is the hit Netflix documentary ‘The Tinder Swindler’ SPOILER ALERT!

If you have not watched it/read about it or simply have not seen any media outlets recently! The Tinder Swindler is about, Shimon Hayute aka Simon Leviev who poses as a man who has wealth and power. He seems to be able to corroborate this story, showing his victims himself and his family, who appear to own a diamond business. However, we learn that this is not his reality, this image has been photoshopped. The reality is, that Shimon Hayute came from an impoverished background – he is wanted in both Finland and Israel and possibly many other countries too for fraud as well as other crimes.

The Swindler manipulated women using his wealth to impress them at first, taking them on lavish dates and flying them around the world. However, months in, suddenly there are ‘enemies’ after Simon and he encourages his victims to send vast sums of money in order to help protect him and in turn their relationship. This money was alleged to cover the fact that the ‘enemies’ could track the Swindler through his bank accounts and therefore in some cases the victims were asked to physically bring him large sums of money in cash.

It’s worth mentioning here that the victims had been sent pictures of both the Swindler and his body guard in the back of an ambulance, with graphic injuries sustained. The Swindler would send these images to his victims (sending the same images to multiple victims) to prove the danger that he was in. It is interesting that he would build suspense when sending these messages by sending these images without an explanation for a number of minutes in order to gaslight his victims and send them into panic. This therefore, added credibility to the story as his ‘enemies’ had attacked him. This was a double pronged attack too, in the sense that because these ‘enemies’ were after him, he was using it as an excuse to stay away from his victims for prolonged periods of time in order to keep his victims ‘safe’.

But why is this guy not in jail?

The Tinder Swindler, had previously been in jail for 5 months, after being convicted for fraud in Israel. However, he was released early from his 18-month sentence.

However, in relation to the ‘crimes’ explored in the documentary, the trouble here is the fact each of these victims gave the Tinder Swindler money of their own volition. They believed that they were giving him money in order to protect him and their relationship – all the Tinder Swindler did was lie. While this lie resulted in these women losing large sums of money, it could be argued that at no point he committed a ‘crime’. It was all just a lie.

Unfortunately, therefore the Swindler has not faced charges in relation to his ‘crimes’ filmed in the Netflix documentary. This may be because the Swindler was never in once country for very long, when we are looking at carrying out an investigation, law enforcement does not have time to put a case together and establish the facts. Not to mention the fact that the Swindler is known to be using false identities when traveling, which adds an additional level of complexity to the case. In times where departments receive very little funding, it is easier to understand why the Swindler has not been charged.

You will also notice, if you have watched the documentary, that the investigation carried out by the newspaper containing the original story (https://www.vg.no/spesial/2019/tindersvindleren/english/) took months. When the Swindler is flitting from country to country it is distinctively harder to keep track of his movements. Not to mention the fact that in country hopping the Swindler will be operating in different jurisdictions.

From a digital law standpoint, the definition of fraud is not broad enough at this point to include cases such as the Tinder Swindler. Despite the fact that these victims, who have taken out huger personal loans and lost vast amounts of money to this catfish, will have to pay the money back. While to an extent the Consumer Credit Act 1974 (click here for an explanation of how this Act aims to protect consumers https://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/regulation/consumer-credit-act-ayvHZ8H0jVl8) may apply to a small amount of the lost funds, this however cannot be applied to the likes of the personal loans. Therefore victims, whether the victims involved in the documentary or other unknown victims will be left with a serious amount of debt which they will need to pay.

Romance Fraud

Going back to our initial definition of ‘romance fraud’ from Action Fraud, you can clearly see here that the Swindler is gaining his victim’s trust through these lavish gestures to convince them that their relationship is real. This is why then when he convinces his victims that he is in danger and by association, they are too, it is easier to ignore the serious red flags here. From an outsider looking in, it would seem obvious that this is a red flag. Who would give someone such a huge amount of money in order to stop some alleged ‘enemies’?

While this example is an extreme case of ‘romance fraud’, when a trusting relationship has been formed it is foreseeable that what may start as a small favour can then be built upon until criminals are ‘borrowing’ large sums of money.

In a report published by the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (‘NCSC’), the average financial cost of romance fraud being conducted through social media apps such as Facebook, Tinder and Plenty of Fish, is estimated at £6100 per victim, according to a recent report by TSB Bank. Whilst all age groups are susceptible to romance fraud, the average age of victims is 47, with women losing on average £6,300, compared to £4,600 for men.

The TSB report reveals alarming details of romance fraud cases, with the average ‘relationship’ seeing victims of romance fraud making payments for two months (62 days) – and with over a third of all cases starting on Facebook. Across the banking industry, romance fraud almost doubled during the pandemic with a recorded increase in losses of 91 percent compared to pre-pandemic levels – and an average loss of £6,100.

TSB have revealed the online platforms that accounted for the highest number of fraud cases where a source of origin was recorded; these are:

  • Facebook – where fake profiles led to over a third (35%) of all fraud cases.
  • This is followed by almost a quarter (24%) on Tinder, over a fifth (21%) on Plenty of Fish and almost one in 10 (9%) from com.
  • The following platforms all account for three percent of cases in which the platform was recorded: com; Bumble and Instagram.

While this article has explored what romance fraud is, arguably the most important takeaway here is how to spot and avoid romance fraud.

Tips for avoiding romance fraud:

(https://www.msn.com/en-gb/lifestyle/relationships/understanding-romance-fraud-and-how-to-avoid-it/ss-AAUbNPL#image=30)

1.     Be careful of what information you share online; scammers will often try to gather as much information about you as possible so they can build their arsenal. The more they know about you as a person, the easier it is for them to gain your trust and manipulate you.

2.     Don’t link to your other profiles, it’s probably safer not to link your dating apps to your social media profiles. Whatever info you provide on the app can be supplemented with that from your social media accounts.

3.     Be sparing with personal information, it’s a good idea not to provide your full name, date of birth, workplace, or any other information that could be used to find you online. They may pretend to have shared interests or friends in common to gain your trust.

4.     Go slowly, when chatting with a new match on a dating app, don’t feel the need to tell them your life story straight away. They might ask you questions about where you work, live, or studied (certain answers might even help them guess your passwords).

5.     Background check, try searching the info they provide in their profile to see if it has been used elsewhere. For example, if you find the same name and job title with a different photo, that could mean they’ve stolen personal info and photos from different people to create a fake profile.

6.     Recognise the warning signs, a major red flag for romance scams (or even the less malicious but still dangerous catfishing) is that they make excuses not to meet up. There may be a long-lasting reason they can’t meet, or they frequently make excuses to cancel plans.

7.     NEVER send money, this might seem obvious, but never ever agree to send someone money or provide personal information like IDs or bank details for any reason. No matter how good the story is, you should never be asked to send money to someone you haven’t met.

8.     Speak to someone you trust, if you’ve developed a relationship with someone through a dating app but suspect that something is off, reach out to a loved one you know has your best interest at heart. It may help to see if they are concerned about your situation. A romance scammer will usually try to create an “us against the world” mentality with their victim. It’s ideal for them if you become isolated from friends and family, who are more likely to be able to point out inconsistencies and red flags because they aren’t caught up in the romance. It’s important to notice if a relationship with someone you’ve never met in person is getting in the way of your relationships with friends and family.

Online relationship tips: 

(https://www.hsbc.co.uk/help/security-centre/how-to-avoid-romance-scams/)

If several of the points below apply to an online relationship, you’re in, it could be a sign you’re actually dealing with a fraudster:

  1. They seem to have fallen in love with you rather quickly;
  2. They soon want to leave the dating site or app, to use instant messaging, email or text instead;
  3. They claim to be from the UK, but say they’re away working or travelling; and
  4. They plan a visit to see you, but something comes up at the last minute to prevent them from coming.

One of these points on its own may be innocent. But more than one, together with a request for money, can be a sign that it’s a romance scam.

While romance fraud is unfortunately growing in the UK, documentaries such as The Tinder Swindler shine a light on the dark side of online dating. Particularly as we look at the huge online reaction that the world has experienced as a result of this documentary, looking towards the future there may be hope for fraud victims. Using their story in the documentary in order to expose criminals such as Shimon Hayute and open the public’s eyes as well as the governments in order to protect others against romance fraud.

by Laura Spencer Laura Spencer No Comments

Diary of a Fraud Victim: Lessons for Apple Pay Users

You may have seen the recent press coverage surrounding people who have fallen victim to fraud; Ofcom’s recently published research – almost 45 million cases – during summer 2021 alone!

You never think that it will be you. As someone, who would like to think that they are well versed when it comes to spotting a phishing link, I was surprised, to find pending transactions on my account with purchases that I had not made.

Ultimately there is the inevitable wave of panic. Trying to rationalise what has happened – going back through my previous purchases just to check that there had not been a mistake made. Then going through my phone and checking websites that I have used; emails I have received as well as text messages.

It was here that I realised my mistake. I had received a text message from my mobile service provider, asking me to update my payment details. Typically, this type of message about changing payment information would fly red flags. However, this text came through under my previous legitimate SMS chain, seemingly under the same number with my provider. Therefore, I clicked the link in the message, proceeding to resubmit my personal details. At the time, although cautious the link seemed to work legitimately. Despite this, I set a reminder to call my provider on Monday morning in order to double check that the details had been received correctly.

Unfortunately, I had fallen for a scam…

If it were you, you see a message from your service provider, asking for an update of information – from a SMS chain, which had been used before – what would you do? Would you hesitate or stop to think whether the message was indeed genuinely from the provider?

I received the ‘pending transaction’ alert from my banking app, I tried to report the pending transactions, however, it was still unclear as to the next steps. I received a call from a ‘no caller ID’ number, which naively, I answered. It sounded legitimate, they seemed to be telling me all of the things that I wanted to hear, but nonetheless I still couldn’t shake the feeling that I was being scammed for a second time. I eventually put the phone down mid conversation in order to ring my bank directly, after researching online my banking guidelines for such situations.

The advice from NCSC in such a situation is to: ‘Go back to something you can trust. Visit the official website, log in to your account, or phone their advertised phone number. Don’t use the links or contact details in the message you have been sent or given over the phone.’ (https://www.ncsc.gov.uk/guidance/suspicious-email-actions). This advice, published on the NCSC website offers guidance to both those affected by scam artists as well as acting as a prevention.

Thankfully, calling the number my bank advised for dealing with fraud, they had already flagged my account for some unknown purchases and therefore, they were aware of the situation prior to my call. While the unexplained ‘no caller ID’ is believed to have been my bank however, even they were unclear if this had been the case due to the nature of the call and the messages that I had received seemingly from them.

The legitimate call with the bank helped me to arrange voice ID on my banking transaction to ensure that this did not happen again. They equally transferred me to an additional line, to speak to the right department in order to. I would encourage everyone to take the time to set up voice recognition with their bank in order to aid the prevention of situations like this from happening.

After which,  I was transferred to my bank’s fraud department who took me through some basic questions such as:

  • When was YOUR last transaction and for how much?
  • Has anyone had access to your card or bank details, this could be a family member or a carer,
  • Are you still in possession of your card?
  • Do you use Apple Pay?
  • Which devices do you use Apple Pay on?

While there were many other questions asked in order to gauge the situation, these were a few of the most memorable. What struck me as interesting was the fact that the questions were asked about Apple Pay, the platform while popular and typically very secure ‘Apple Pay is a very secure way to make payments. This is because your card numbers are not stored on your device, and are never shared by Apple Pay, or sent with your payment. Instead, Apple Pay gives you a unique Device Account Number, that’s encrypted and stored in a secure part of your iPhone, iPad or Apple Watch. So, when you use Apple Pay, your Device Account Number and a specially created security code are used to process your payment.’ (https://www.barclaycard.co.uk/personal/help/contactless-payments/secure-applePay) As it turns out there had been a separate account set up using my personal details, with the code mentioned above.

While on the phone the bank informed me that over the weekend, there had been tens of thousands of reports of phishing from mobile phone providers – this specific attack was on Apple iPhone users. This is because when the fraudulent messages were sent, they were automatically filtered into what seemed legitimate messages from providers. Hence, many, including myself, believed that the link circulated was genuine.

Thankfully I had caught the transactions early and my bank will be able to refund me the money that had been taken while also closing down the Apple Pay account that had been created using my details. Additionally, I will be sent a new card, with new banking details as well as being instructed to carefully watch my account over the next few days – reporting any changes to my account. Alongside this I was sent some useful advice for the future.

This was resolved mainly because I had my pending transactions set up on my account to receive a notification whenever my transactions were being processed. This means that whenever money is ____ my account I am ‘pinged’ with a notification and made aware regarding any payments in my account. I would strongly recommend to anyone who does not check their bank frequently to ensure that such notifications have been set up – otherwise for me, there may have been a very different outcome to this experience.

Lessons to be learned:

  1. People should be aware that phishing is becoming more and more evolved, exacerbated by the pandemic. While this seems like the obvious warning, estimates from the Telephone-operated Crime Survey for England and Wales (‘TCSEW’) showed that there were 4.6 million fraud offences in the year ending March 2021, a 24% increase compared with the year ending March 2019 (https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/crimeandjustice/bulletins/crimeinenglandandwales/yearendingmarch2021). Demonstrating that despite advice given out, people are still being ‘scammed’.
  • Apple users need to be more cautious when receiving unexpected messages – since messages can be auto filled into seemingly legitimate contact numbers, already on your phone. In my experience this came in the form of my mobile service provider. To prevent this from happening Apple have produced an update where you can filter and block unknown messages (to find out more https://support.apple.com/en-gb/guide/iphone/iph203ab0be4/ios) which may help people avoid possible phishing messages.

by Laura Spencer Laura Spencer No Comments

Routed in the Past

Passwords, every 2 or 3 months they should be changed or adjusted slightly in order to keep your password protected account/device secure. So why do we not change our Wi-Fi password for our router? Most of us will still be using the awkwardly long password written on the back of our router or on a card, and not think twice about changing it.  In reality we should probably be changing this password as soon as we can, and then regularly modifying it to keep a secure network.

The complacency that we approach our router security with is quite frankly appalling – it  is so easy for an individual with malicious intentions to hack into a router. Particularly when working from home networks which are not designed for intensive business use. Throughout the  pandemic, working from home has been a necessity for millions of people  working in business of all shapes and sizes, however, the reality of the scenario is that our Wi-Fi routers are vulnerable and we need to adapt them in order to make them less susceptible to hacking as well as other security risks.

With lockdowns and COVID restrictions slowly coming to an end its foreseeable that more and more visitors will be coming into your home. And what is the first thing that most ask?

“What is the Wi-Fi password?”

So what?

Giving the Wi-Fi password to a visitor to your house seems so innocent and somewhat a rite of passage in this day in age. Even my grandad in his 70s asked for the Wi-Fi password when in my garden this weekend! However if working from home, individuals should perhaps consider partitioning your home Wi-Fi, one for work devices such as your computer and work phone as well as one for normal usage for both your personal devices, smart speakers, TVs, and any other internet enabled technology and keep a separate partitioned network for guests. On the same front you could also consider using a guest Wi-Fi and keeping a separate Wi-Fi for those who live with you.

The importance of outdated routers as well as router security comes after a recent report by Which? The report details problems found by its lab during extensive tests.

The main concerns highlighted by the report include:

  • Weak default passwords cyber-criminals could hack were found on most of the routers
  • A lack of firmware updates, important for security and performance
  • A network vulnerability with EE’s Brightbox 2, which could give a hacker full control of the device

The UK Government plans to ban default passwords being pre-set on devices, as part of upcoming legislation covering smart devices. This would come under the UK’s Internet of Things (‘IoT’) ‘Security by Design’ law. The law is aimed at enhancing the security of consumer devices, this comes after the government introduction of a security code of practice for IoT device manufacturers back in 2018 – with the forthcoming legislation intending to build on that with a set of legally binding requirements. This therefore would encourage the individual to keep their device and network more secure – similarly in highlighting it in such report as this and equally solidifying it in legislation will aid the public’s understanding of the importance of keeping a secure home network.

The ‘Security by Design’ law is also planning to make manufacturers:

  • Tell customers for how long their device will receive security-software updates
  • Provide a public point of contact to make it simpler for anyone to report a vulnerability

This will enable individuals to have greater access to information and help in regards to their device security.

by Laura Spencer Laura Spencer No Comments

Pandemic Business Boom: Website Blunders

Living in the 21st Century it is increasingly easy for individuals to start their own businesses, especially during the pandemic new businesses have risen to around 407,510 new businesses were formed during this period (according to SKY news https://news.sky.com/story/covid-19-record-number-of-new-businesses-predicted-as-uk-comes-out-of-coronavirus-lockdown-12236841). However when it comes to marketing and advertising for your brand there are a few key points which need to be considered.

The first being what sort of platform are you going to use to build your website?

It is common and only natural to see an advertisement of a company on the TV or see an advert online which uses fancy advertising with offices around the world. However, often the knee jerk reaction is ‘this must be a good company, look at how well advertised they are’ and therefore you make the decision to build your platform using their platform and tools. This is not always the case. The most important aspect when looking to build an online presence is the legal and regulatory compliance of the platform. Read through their privacy policy in detail; read through their terms and conditions and then decide whether you think that they are in fact compliant – you would be surprised as to what the platforms that  spend money on advertising on the TV and online hide in regards to their compliance, or potentially lack of it. Recently we have been working for a client which has been using one of the highly advertised sites as his website platform and going through his website compliance documents raised too many red flags to ignore – hence the inspiration for this post!

In this case there were a few major red flags.

  • Their storage limitation (data retention)
  • Their data minimisation
  • Their server base location

Starting with the storage limitation of our client’s website provider; the Information Commissioner’s Office (‘ICO’) directs companies and organisations:

  • You must not keep personal data for longer than you need it.
  • You need to think about – and be able to justify – how long you keep personal data. This will depend on your purposes for holding the data.
  • You need a policy setting standard retention periods wherever possible, to comply with documentation requirements.
  • You should also periodically review the data you hold, and erase or anonymise it when you no longer need it.
  • You must carefully consider any challenges to your retention of data. Individuals have a right to erasure if you no longer need the data.
  • You can keep personal data for longer if you are only keeping it for public interest archiving, scientific or historical research, or statistical purposes.

The UK General Data Protection Regulation (‘GDPR’) does not dictate how long you should keep personal data for. It is up to the company or organisation to justify their retention of such data, based on their purposes for processing it. Personal data for many companies and organisations are kept for a maximum of 6 years – this is because UK statutory limitation – the period of time for which a contract could be subject to a legal dispute resulting in a court claim – is 6 years. After 6 years a transaction or contract cannot be the subject for a court case and by default many corporations destroy all such records after 6 years.

Ensuring that you erase or anonymise personal data when you no longer need it will reduce the risk that it becomes irrelevant, excessive, inaccurate or out of date. Apart from helping you to comply with the data minimisation and accuracy principles, this also reduces the risk that you will use such data in error – to the detriment of all concerned.

But why is storage limitation so important?

Personal data held for too long will, by definition, be unnecessary. You are unlikely to have a lawful basis for retention (e.g. 6 year statutory Limitation as outlined above). From a more practical perspective, it is inefficient to hold more personal data than you need, and there may be unnecessary costs associated with storage and security, either in hard copy or online. Remember that you must also respond to subject access requests for any personal data you hold. This may be more difficult if you are holding old data for longer than you need. Good practice around storage limitation – with clear policies on retention periods and erasure – is also likely to reduce the burden of dealing with queries about retention and individual requests for erasure.

Data minimisation is also covered under UK GDPR. The ICO directs companies and organisations, when processing data to ensure that the data is processed in way that are deemed:

  • adequate – sufficient to properly fulfil your stated purpose;
  • relevant – has a rational link to that purpose; and
  • limited to what is necessary – you do not hold more than you need for that purpose.

The idea of minimisation is based around companies and organisations only collecting data that they need, and is necessary. The website provider our client was using was ‘hoovering’ up information which why did not necessarily need – taking information from it’s users users. Minimisation is important because orgnisations should not be collecting more data than they need for the specific task the personal data is collected for.

Finally the server location through our client’s website provider is vague. It is important for companies and organisations to know where your data is being stored, whether the data is encrypted and if so to what standard (e.g. SSL 128- bit, TSL 256-bit). If your data is hosted with a cloud provider where the physical servers are not within the EU, then you can’t use that service unless the appropriate GDPR compliant international transfer conditions are met (adequacy, a data transfer agreement containing standard contractual clauses or binding corporate rules). These conditions are complex, hence it is helpful to know where the personal data, for which your organisation is responsible, is actually being stored. Any provider who either cannot confirm this simple information, or obfuscates when the question is asked, should be avoided. Even if they do have lots of shiny offices and a slick TV advertising campaign.   

by Laura Spencer Laura Spencer No Comments

Experian Discredited: ICO Investigation

Picture this – you are looking to buy your first house – you get your credit score checked by Experian  – you have heard of them, maybe seen some advertising on TV,  and so you go ahead. Little would you think about what Experian may be doing with your data without your knowledge/consent because there are regulations that they must follow – surely?

Experian and other credit reference agencies collect and process vast amounts of personal data in order to carry out credit checks as well as parts of their other services; ‘We gather, analyse, combine and process it to help people and organisations achieve their goals’. Yet does this mean that you as a consumer are intending for your personal information to be traded, enriched and enhanced without your knowledge or consent for marketing purposes?

The answer, more often than not, is no.

You most likely do not want the company sharing your information with third parties purely for their own marketing gain, even more so without your consent to boot.

This processing of your personal data by Experian resulted in products which were used by commercial organisations such as political parties or charities to find new customers, identify the people most likely to be able to afford goods and services, and build profiles about people.  The UK Data Protection Regulator , the Information Commissioners Office (“ICO”) found that significant ‘invisible’ processing took place, likely affecting millions of adults in the UK. ‘Invisible’ because the individual data subject is not aware that the organisation is collecting and using their personal data. This is against data protection law.

The Data Protection Act (DPA) and General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) initiated a new approach to personal data and the transference of such data. It had 7 main aims/principles

  1. Lawfulness, fairness and transparency
  2. Purpose limitation
  3. Data minimisation
  4. Accuracy
  5. Storage limitation
  6. Integrity and confidentiality (security)
  7. Accountability

These aimed to guide and regulate organisations to allow for individuals to have greater access to their data and to be able to understand what companies could and could not do with it.

Experian, failed to be transparent – outlined under Article 5 GDPR; this is because they were using ‘invisible’ processing of personal data and therefore were not being clear to data subjects, as to what their personal data was really being used for. g. The regulator found that personal data provided to Experian, in order for them to provide their statutory credit referencing function, was being used in limited ways for marketing purposes.

The ICO ordered Experian to make fundamental changes to how it handles people’s personal data within its direct marketing services. Experian did not accept that they were required to make the changes set out by the ICO, and as such were not prepared to issue privacy information directly to individuals nor cease the use of credit reference data for direct marketing purposes. As a result, Experian has been given an enforcement notice compelling it to make changes within nine months or risk further action. This could include a fine of up to £20m or 4% of the organisation’s total annual worldwide turnover. The enforcement notice followed a two-year investigation by the ICO into how Experian used personal data within their data brokering businesses for direct marketing purposes. The ICO’s notice requires Experian to inform people that it holds their personal data and how it is using or intends to use it for marketing purposes. Experian has until July 2021 to do this subject to any appeal. The ICO also requires Experian to stop using personal data derived from the credit referencing side of its business by January 2021, which it does currently for limited direct marketing purposes. In the enforcement notice, the ICO states that people have no choice about whether their data is shared with Experian for credit referencing purposes and that Experian’s processing of this data for marketing purposes is unexpected.

At the same time that the ICO were investigating Experian, other credit reference agencies (CRA) were being investigated for similar reasons, only along with transparency some of the CRAs were also using profiling to generate new or previously unknown information about people, which is often privacy invasive. It is not revealed in the report as to whether Experian were also using profiling within their processing. This highlights the potential need for further regulating of these providers to ensure that there is compliance at all times in regards to both UK GDPR as well as the UK Data Protection Act (DPA). Similarly investigations such as this open consumer eyes as to what goes on ‘behind closed doors’ of companies in regards to their data and how it is used. Outgoing UK Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham has remarked: “The data broking sector is a complex ecosystem where information appears to be traded widely, without consideration for transparency, giving millions of adults in the UK little or no choice or control over their personal data. The lack of transparency and lack of lawful bases combined with the intrusive nature of the profiling has resulted in a serious breach of individuals’ information rights.”

It is safe to say that certain reports and investigations that your data is being used for purposes that you did not consent to will have had an impact on the company itself – with its reputation severely tarnished.

by Laura Spencer Laura Spencer No Comments

Marketing Consent Crisis

We have all been there, scrolling through the endless marketing spam in our inbox – most of the time not even taking any notice on what we are deleting. Throughout the pandemic organisations have also turned to SMS in order to market their business – equally buying and selling personal data illegally in order to find a new customer bases.

Under the General Data Protection Regulation (‘GDPR’) Article 6 specifies that there has to be a legal basis for processing the data – the article also outlines 6 basis that make the processing legal. These are: 

  1. Consent: the individual has given clear specific informed consent for you to process their personal data for a specific purpose.
  2. Contract: the processing is necessary for a contract you have with the individual, or because they have asked you to take specific steps before entering into a contract.
  3. Legal obligation: the processing is necessary for you to comply with the law (not including contractual obligations).
  4. Vital interests: the processing is necessary to protect someone’s life.
  5. Public task: the processing is necessary for you to perform a task in the public interest or for your official functions, and the task or function has a clear basis in law.
  6. Legitimate interests: the processing is necessary for your legitimate interests or the legitimate interests of a third party, unless there is a good reason to protect the individual’s personal data which overrides those legitimate interests. (This cannot apply if you are a public authority processing data to perform your official tasks.)

Where organisations are using personal data to send unsolicited marketing emails and messages they may be doing this without consent which therefore breaking the law. Not to mention that these are often annoying and frustrating!

Why is a Legal Basis Necessary?

The first principle of GDPR requires that you process all personal data lawfully, fairly and in a transparent manner. If no lawful basis applies to your processing, your processing will be unlawful and in breach of the first principle. Individuals also have the right to erase personal data which has been processed unlawfully. The individual’s right to be informed under Article 13 and 14 requires you to provide people with information about your lawful basis for processing. This means you need to include these details in your privacy notice.

However the UK Data Protection Regulator  the Information Commissioner’s Office (‘ICO’) throughout the pandemic have been having to enforce more and more cases of non-compliance in organisations. For example the ICO reported on the 5th March 2021 they fined two separate companies that sent nuisance text messages during the Covid-19 pandemic have been fined a total of £330,000 by the ICO. Messages from one of the companies prompted a record 10,000 complaints.

The companies in question were Leads Works Ltd and Valca Vehicle Ltd. The ICO fined West Sussex-based Leads Works Ltd £250,000 for sending more than 2.6 million nuisance text messages to customers without their valid consent. These messages, that were sent between 16 May and 26 June 2020, resulted in over 10,000 complaints, the company have also been issued with an enforcement notice by the ICO, ordering it to stop sending unlawful direct marketing messages.

Examples of the text messages include:

“In lockdown and want to earn extra cash? Avon is now FULLY ONLINE, FREE to do and paid weekly. Reply with your name for info. 18+ only. Text STOP to opt out.” The ICO’s investigation found Avon did not send or instigate the text messages.

Valca Vehicles Ltd, following complaints from the public to the ICO, the company was found to have sent more than 95,000 text messages from June to July 2020 without the recipients’ permission. The messages referenced the pandemic and were designed to appeal to individuals whose finances have been adversely affected. This, in the Commissioner’s view, was a clear attempt to capitalise on, and profiteer from, the health crisis.

Examples of the text messages:

“*firstname* Affected by Covid? Struggling with finances? lost job /furloughed? Were here to help! Gvnmnt backed support see if you qualify http://www.debtquity.org”. The company, which is currently operating as ‘Debtquity’ to generate leads for debt management products, has also been issued with an enforcement notice by the ICO, ordering them to stop sending the messages.

A Post Pandemic World…

The future, although uncertain, will involve businesses trying to recuperate what was lost to the pandemic – rebuilding and reimagining marketing. However, it is important to note that despite the fact we have been living in unprecedented times, the UK GDPR as implemented through the UK Data Protection Act (‘DPA’) still has to be followed in order for business to operate legally.

So is buying contacts and sending marketing emails and sms texts impossible under GDPR?

NO – this can still be done but it has to be done in a manner consistent with GDPR. An organisation can purchase personal data such as emails or phone numbers and used them for marketing PROVIDED you can demonstrate compliance with one of the 6 bases named above. Poor value data vendors are continuing with the same poor practices that were actually illegal under the pre – GDPR data protection laws, let alone now. Good vendors are providing due diligence documents demonstrating legal basis, and providing the purchaser with evidence to demonstrate compliance, such as records of consent, showing how and when it was given and for what purpose. Any reputable vendor would be easily able to provide this information on request, so the onus falls on the organisation buying the data and doing the marketing – don’t forget your GDPR due dilligence.  

*Spam texts and emails, as well as nuisance calls can be reported through the ICO’s website at ico.org.uk/concerns. Mobile phone users can also report spam texts to the GSMA Spam Reporting Service by forwarding the message to 7726.

by Laura Spencer Laura Spencer No Comments

Docassemble Showcase Recording

On the 25th February Anson Evaluate with the aid of Tonic Workflows and Sheffield Legal Hackers hosted a showcase – celebrating ‘Access to Justice’ projects which had been worked on by those involved in the ‘Free Course: Build an A2J tool using Docassemble’.

Projects from the A2J Docassemble course included groups exploring revenge pornography, domestic abuse as well as asylum seekers. Each project would begin in the research stage, in order to understand what the unmet legal need was exactly; leading on from this research, groups began to design and plan apps or software which could be used as a basis to meet the legal need. From here groups used the Docassemble platform to build their project in code format. Finally each group has presented their A2J topic and demoed their Docassemble software in front of the other A2J groups as well as a virtual panel. The recording of the showcase held in February is linked below.

by Laura Spencer Laura Spencer No Comments

Schrems II: Privacy Shield Down – The future of international data transfers with the US

Dr. Heather Anson chaired a discussion on Wednesday 12 August at 1pm BST regarding the recent European court decision that struck down the EU-US privacy shield, the main data sharing agreement allowing the storage of personal data of EU citizens in the US where the majority of the worlds cloud storage infrastructure is held.

Heather Anson was joined by Peter Wright, managing director of Digital Law, Jennifer Baker, Brussels based technology journalist, and Anna Drozd, specialist on EU law on Privacy and data protection based in the Brussels office of the Law Society of England and Wales, and covered topics such as:

  • The implications of this decision on data sharing between Europe and the US,
  • The use of Standard Contractual Clauses in contracts to facilitate international data transfers,
  • The use of Binding Corporate Rules,
  • The implications for businesses based in the UK, Europe and elsewhere who wish to trade in the European digital single market,
  • The likely implications of Brexit on international data transfers to and from the UK,

and more.

Don’t worry if you missed it, the webinar was recorded and is now available on demand by clicking on the link below.

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