UK: Bible Society fined £100,000 by ICO after security failings put 417,000 supporters’ personal data at risk

The British and Foreign Bible Society, based in Swindon, has been fined £100,000 by the Information Commissioner’s Office, after their computer network was compromised as the result of a dharma variant ransomware attack in 2016.

Between November and December 2016, the intruders used a brute force attack and exploited remote access that had been secured only with a weak password. As a result, they were able to  access the personal data of 417,000 of the Society’s supporters. For more than 1,000 of these supporters, some payment card and bank account details were placed at risk.

The Society, which translates and distributes the Bible in the UK and around the world, relies on card donations from its UK supporters.

The ICO’s Head of Enforcement, Steve Eckersley, said:

“The Bible Society failed to protect a significant amount of personal data, and exposed its supporters to possible financial or identity fraud.

“Our investigation determined that it is likely that the religious belief of the 417,000 supporters could be inferred, and the distress this kind of breach can cause cannot be underestimated.

“Cyber-attacks will happen, that’s just a fact, and we fully accept that they are a criminal act. But organisations need to have strong security measures in place to make it as difficult as possible for intruders.”

The Commissioner found that, although the Society was the victim of a criminal act, it failed to take appropriate technical and organisational steps to protect its supporters’ personal data.

The ICO considered this to be a serious contravention of Principle 7 of the Data Protection Act 1998, which states that appropriate technical and organisational measures must be taken against unauthorised or unlawful processing of personal data.

The Society has taken substantial remedial action since it became aware of the attack and has fully co-operated with the ICO’s investigation.

This post contains information provided by the Information COmmissioner’s Office

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