Bus Stop Dave

davidayersIt comes to something when a nipper of fifteen years of age can hack into a huge company like TalkTalk and gawp at the personal details of the subscribers, all four million of them! This has made us look again at the implications of the technological dream.

In olden times, millions of years ago, you kept your bank details in your own filing system or in the drawer of your bureau. The same with your medical details, kept at home and in your doctor’s surgery. Your passport, birth certificate, marriage certificate and details of your children were all in a drawer at home. If you were burgled, it was most unlikely that any burglar would be interested in your personal data. Now all that data is floating around in cyberspace ripe for the picking. There are hordes of teenage tech geniuses who can and do crack government codes from their own bedrooms. So how safe are we with all our plastic cards and all the forms we fill in on line?

Not long ago there was a ‘technical glitch’ when about six hundred thousand payments went missing from current accounts at NatWest, RBS, Ulster Bank and Coutts. It was mainly wages and benefits.

Now M&S announce ‘a glitch’ on their website which allows customers who log in to their accounts to see the personal details of other account holders – names, dates of birth, contacts and previous orders.

If you play away, the risk is even greater than it used to be! Ashley Madison, the dating website for married people, accidentally leaked the details of thirty-three million users.

Of course many data breaches aren’t disclosed and they are almost impossible to prevent. Less than 40% of companies affected by hackers or by accidental loss of data tell their customers what has happened. These breaches carry no criminal liability and companies do not have to report them by law. Usually it’s simply the company’s IT team that takes the rap.

Oh for the days of the old cardboard box full of battered files!

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