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BT and your privacy

by Josef Kafka


In the modern day, there’s no excusing any communications company that compromises user data. In the early days of the internet, many of us were unaware of the risks, such as surveillance and fraud. But now, as hackers and government analysts constantly hone their techniques, private companies should be extra vigilant about information security.   

However, BT is currently being investigated by the Information Commissioner’s Office on the grounds that it exposed masses of user information during a data transfer. Basically, BT’s email services were, until recently, built on a Yahoo platform. Then the company decided it wanted to develop a bespoke email service, which is a totally understandable decision, but not one to be taken lightly. A data transfer on any scale needs to be carefully managed to avoid damage to or loss of data. When we’re talking about a mass transfer of confidential information, the stakes get considerably higher. 

According to an anonymous whistle-blower who was closely involved in the process, BT took on an external contractor called Critical Path, whose methods are believed to have caused the problem. The whistle-blower posited that email addresses and passwords were not kept secure as a result. 

The ICO already believes that BT was out of line, according to the stipulations of the Data Protection Act. As anyone with a BT address no doubt knows, intrusions by spammers and scammers happen almost every day, on a scale that the company simply couldn’t remain unaware of. Of course, most of us just laugh off those strangely phrased emails from Nigerian princes, but they reflect a real threat. 

Firstly, scams are often successful and people can lose a lot of money. BT in particular, which provides email services to many older people who may not be familiar with the internet, should be conscious of that. But secondly, the kind of data insecurity that leads to spam can also lead to more severe invasions of your online life, particularly if passwords are also exposed to attack. 

Unsurprisingly, BT has denied the claims, arguing that the issue flagged had already been identified in one of its periodic security reviews, and was quickly dealt with. All the same, as LinkedIn realised when it’s database was hacked, even the suspicion of insecurity can cost customers and eat into profit. If you have concerns about your personal information, as a result of the BT case or any other, consider getting in touch with 247 Detectives. Our team can provide digital consultancy services to establish if your data has been compromised and to what extent. We will then work to figure out all of the areas in which your online information is vulnerable, before advising you on how to proceed. If nothing else, we can provide you with peace of mind when you’re interacting online. 

Unfortunately, internet companies, from giants to start-ups, have repeatedly been implicated in privacy scandals so it may be wise to take their assurances with a pinch of salt. While the ICO might punish BT for the exposure of customer data, you might want to take matters into your own hands.

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