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With Dixons Carphone today announcing a major breach of data involving unauthorised access to 5.9 million customers’ cards and 1.2 million personal records, it’s clear that heads are starting to roll in our post-GDPR climate.
Dixons is taking all the right steps: volunteering the news of the breach, a public apology, a thorough investigation (evidenced by updates from the ICO) and the assurance that no financial fraud seems to have happened as a result of the incident. On the face of it, the statement issued sets a reassuring tone: yes, there’s been a slip-up but no real harm done.
What’s at stake here is far more than hackers trying to steal people’s bank details. It’s the data itself that holds the value.
Look back at our previous blog, "Are we heading for data doomsday," and it becomes clear that it’s the data that allows people to piece together individuals’ lifestyle patterns that hold the most value. As we said a few weeks ago, "Individual pieces of data - seemingly innocuous on their own - when combined become far greater than the sum of their parts."
Data mapped together create a rich, highly granular and extremely monetisable source of information about individual lives and group demographics.
This data can be used for far more than influencing our shopping habits - we’re all familiar with the loyalty card and customised coupons tailored to our weekly shop and how our insurance premiums rise following a claim. Data can be used to build up a detailed picture of what makes a person tick, where they hang out, who influences them.
We’ve already seen this in action. The now-deceased Cambridge Analytica was hired to analyse data for the purpose of targeting marketing material aimed at influencing voters. Nothing new here maybe - political propaganda has always been around. But it's the razor sharp insights into lifestyle models that allow far more sophisticated targeting.
The recruitment industry is the perfect data goldmine.
Recruiters handle millions of pieces of individual data that go far beyond contact details and career history. Bank details, health information, criminal records…all stored in recorded and possibly videoed interviews, allowing facial recognition technology to kick in… All highly valuable data. And therefore the perfect target for hackers.
The reputation damage of data breach is potentially significant. The GDPR and consequent flood of opt-in / opt-out emails that we’ve all received is causing consumers to realise the value of their data. Candidates will not give up their information as lightly, and will certainly value employer brands that respect their rights to data privacy.
At Volcanic we have long taken data protection seriously. Our recruitment technology is built to the world-class ISO 27001 standard governing Information Security Management Systems and is based on the principles of privacy by design recommended in the GDPR.
Lead image source: BBC