Posted on June 8, 2018 by staff

Bible Society fined £100,000 for data breach


The British and Foreign Bible Society has been fined £100,000 by the Information Commissioner’s Office after the charity’s computer network was compromised as the result of a cyber-attack in 2016.

The fine is the first to be announced since the introduction of the GDPR, but will be dealt with under old rules as the attack happened prior to its introduction.

Between November and December 2016, cyber attackers exploited a weakness in the charity’s network to access the personal data of 417,000 of its supporters.

Some payment card and bank account details were placed at risk during the attack.

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

Supporter details were kept on an insufficiently secured internal network, and in 2009 the Society created a service account on the same network.

The attackers deployed ransomware, and whilst the society’s data was not permanently damaged or rendered inaccessible by the encryption, the attackers were able to transfer some files out of the network.

“The Bible Society failed to protect a significant amount of personal data, and exposed its supporters to possible financial or identity fraud,” said ICO’s head of enforcement Steve Eckersley.

“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 charity was the victim of a criminal act, it failed to take appropriate technical and organisational steps to protect its supporters’ personal data.

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