Virgin Media has just four weeks to admit legal responsibility for a data breach that affected 900,000 customers or it could be forced to pay up to £4.5billion in compensation.
It comes after Virgin Media said the breach – which exposed data including porn sites accessed – occurred because its database was incorrectly configured, allowing unauthorised access to one third-party.
Your Lawyers, a ‘no win no fee’ firm based in Chesterfield, Derbyshire, said it could get people who had their full names and contact details released up to £5,000 each.
The information was accessible from April 2019 until February 28, 2020.
Aman Johal, Director of Your Lawyers, said: ‘Our Group Action Claim against Virgin Media is now live and I encourage anyone affected to sign up for representation now.
Your Lawyers, a firm based in Chesterfield, Derbyshire, has offered to help people who had their full names and contact details released get up to £5,000 each from Virgin Media (file)
‘Unbelievably, Virgin Media failed to take the necessary steps to keep people’s data safe for a sustained period of time, and, shockingly, it took a third-party security researcher to identify the issue.
‘We know from experience that, when personal data is exposed online, it leaves victims vulnerable to cyberattacks and attempts at fraud, such as phishing scams.
‘Customers will no doubt have bought into the Virgin Media brand that has been nurtured by Richard Branson for years and will rightly expect their personal data be properly protected. For this to have happened is an inexcusable breach of consumer rights.
‘Your Lawyers will hold Virgin Media to account for this avoidable breach of private information, and we will do everything possible to ensure justice for the victims prevails. The door is open for victims to join the action, and now is the time to act.’
The information in the database did not include passwords or financial details but did contain names, email addresses, phone numbers and details of customers’ contracts with the service.
However, the independent IT company that alerted Virgin to the breach found details that linked some customers to ‘explicit websites’, it told MailOnline.
Virgin Media blamed the error on the negligence of a staff member who did not follow correct procedures.
Virgin Media declined to comment.
If the tech giant doesn’t admit liability Your Lawyers will file an application for a Group Litigation Order (GLO) in an effort to get compensation for those affected.
It is not known what will happen if Virgin Media does admit liability for the breach.
With the legal case now active against Virgin Media victims have been asked to forward and bring a claim.
Your Lawyers claims to represent almost 2,000 Virgin Media customers and claimant numbers are expected to continue to ‘rapidly’ grow, it says.
Virgin Media blamed the error on a staff member not following correct procedures. The information was accessible from April 2019 until February 28, 2020
On March 5 this year it was revealed that Virgin Media had suffered a data breach that compromised the personal information of 900,000 individuals.
Their personal details were left freely accessible in an online database for ten months between April 2019 and February 2020 and were accessed by an unknown third party at least once, meaning those customers affected could be at risk from cyberattacks and fraud.
The incorrectly configured database exposed full names, email addresses, dates of birth, contact numbers and, in some cases, details that linked customers to pornography and explicit websites, potentially leaving them open to blackmail and extortion.
The majority of victims were customers with TV or telephone landline accounts, while a smaller percentage of Virgin Mobile customers were also affected.
Your Lawyers ia a consumer action and data breach law firm representing thousands of claimants in over 50 group and multi-party actions.
The firm said it was likely the GLO would go ahead because Virgin Media is not expected to agree to the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR).
A final court deadline could be established soon, it says.
In March Virgin Media CEO Lutz Schuler said the company shut down access to the affected database as soon as it was made aware of the breach.
Speaking at a media conference in London, Schuler said: ‘There is no evidence that the data taken has been used in the wrong way.
‘We want to avoid any panic.
‘We all have enough on our plate with coronavirus at the moment but we have to be open about it,’ said Schuler, who added that he would apologise to customers for the breach.
The company, which is conducting an ongoing investigation, said it believes the database was accessed at least once but does not know to what extent or if any information was used.
‘Protecting our customers’ data is a top priority and we sincerely apologise,’ it said.
‘We are now contacting those affected to inform them of what happened.’
Virgin is now urging its customers to remain cautious before ‘clicking on an unknown link or giving any details to an unverified or unknown party’.
Was your data released during the breach?
If you’d like to join the action go to Your Lawyers here to claim.
The Financial Times reported that this breach affected about 15 percent of Virgin Media’s paying customers, including some with Virgin Mobile.
However, data from non-customers could have also been included that came from ‘refer a friend’ promotions.
Virgin Media is Britain’s second-largest broadband company and owned by billionaire John Malone’s Liberty Global, according to The Financial Times.
The vulnerability of the customer data was first discovered by information security provider TurgenSec, as reported by the FT and confirmed to MailOnline by the company.
‘The breach was discovered by TurgenSec as part of a routine sweep of databases,’ a spokesperson at TurgenSec told MailOnline.
‘Despite reassurance issued that ‘protecting our customers’ data is a top priority’ we found no indication that this was the case.
‘This wasn’t only due to a simple error made by a member of staff “incorrectly configuring” a database, as has been stated.
TurgenSec added that information was in plaintext and unencrypted – which means anyone with a web-browser could clearly view and potentially download all the data without needing any specialised equipment or hacking techniques.
‘It is regrettable that the company is shifting blame to a member of their staff, when they should have had a mature DevSecOps methodology that routinely looks for, identifies and mitigates these errors before a customer’s data is exposed.’
With almost one million customers affected, the breach is deemed one of the largest by a UK firm in recent years.
‘This data breach has exposed the data of almost a million Virgin Media customers and whilst no financial details or passwords were included, those customers are likely to be worried,’ said Adam French, Which? consumer rights expert.
‘It is vital that Virgin Media continues to provide clear information on what has happened.
‘For anyone concerned they could be affected, it’s good practice to update your password after a data breach.
‘Also, be wary of emails regarding the breach, as scammers may try and take advantage of it.’
Virgin said that online security advice and help on a range of topics is available to customers on its website.
It says it has contacted all the affected individuals with advice on what to do next.
VIRGIN MEDIA’S STATEMENT ON THE DATA BREACH
‘We recently became aware that some personal information, stored on one of our databases has been accessed without permission. Our investigation is ongoing and we have contacted affected customers and the Information Commissioner’s Office.
The database was used to manage information about our existing and potential customers in relation to some of our marketing activities. This included: contact details (such as name, home and email address and phone numbers), technical and product information, including any requests you may have made to us using forms on our website. In a very small number of cases, it included date of birth. Please note that this is all of the types of information in the database, but not all of this information may have related to every customer.
To reassure you, the database did NOT include any passwords or financial details, such as bank account number or credit card information.
We take our responsibility to protect personal information seriously. We know what happened, why it happened and as soon as we became aware we immediately shut down access to the database and launched a full independent forensic investigation.’
This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk
Coronavirus UK: Lung cancer referrals plunged by 75% during first lockdown
Lung cancer referrals plummeted by up to 75 per cent during the ‘catastrophic’ first lockdown, a report has revealed.
Experts said one in three people with lung cancer has died since the beginning of the pandemic amid waits for life-saving treatment.
They warned that some of the deaths may have been mislabelled as Covid-19 because a cough is a key symptom of both diseases.
The study also estimated that the delays to diagnosis, treatment and tests during lockdown could lead to 1,372 avoidable deaths in the next five years.
The report by the UK Lung Cancer Coalition warned that ‘the catastrophe that is the Covid-19 pandemic’ is likely to reverse improvements in survival rates made over the past 20 years.
Lung cancer is the UK’s most deadly cancer, killing 35,300 each year – more than breast and bowel cancer combined.
Experts said one in three people with lung cancer has died since the beginning of the pandemic amid waits for life-saving treatment (file photo)
Referrals for the disease have been the hardest hit out of all cancers, partly because people with a cough have been told to stay at home.
Experts said this means those with lung cancer are not going to their GP and are therefore being diagnosed at a later stage, significantly damaging their survival chances. The report added: ‘GPs are likely to misdiagnose early lung cancer symptoms as Covid-19 because of the large number of Covid-19 cases.’
It said that in some areas referrals by GPs to lung cancer specialists fell by 75 per cent during the peak of the outbreak in spring.
Professor Sir Mike Richards, former national cancer director, said: ‘There is a specific problem for lung cancer, which is the overlap of symptoms with Covid-19.
‘Some patients may develop cough symptoms and be told to stay at home until their symptoms get worse. This has resulted in an increase in late stage presentations.’
Professor David Baldwin, respiratory medicine consultant at the University of Nottingham, said: ‘At least a third of patients with lung cancer have already died since the beginning of the pandemic. Some deaths will not have been recognised as lung cancer and may have even been labelled as Covid-19.’
The report said that patients have faced potentially deadly delays for diagnosis and surgery since March.
Prompt referrals from a GP to hospital for a scan are crucial for lung cancer survival chances.
The study also estimated that the delays to diagnosis, treatment and tests during lockdown could lead to 1,372 avoidable deaths in the next five years (file photo)
But many services were halted for three months or more during lockdown. Meanwhile thousands of cancer patients had chemotherapy or surgery postponed.
The report also found that more than half of lung cancer specialist nurses or their team members were redeployed or unable to work as a result of Covid-19.
It said: ‘Delays of only a few months can have significant implications for the chances of a patient to receive a potentially curative treatment.
‘With studies showing a 16 per cent increase in mortality if the time from diagnosis to surgery is more than 40 days, a delay of three months or more can mean the progression from a potentially curative tumour towards one that is only suitable for palliative care.’
It added: ‘It is estimated that the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic could lead to an additional 1,372 deaths due to lung cancer, reversing the progress achieved in lung cancer over recent years.’
The Department of Health urged people to come forward if they have lung cancer symptoms.
Found, key to spotting your risk of needing treatment for Covid-19
A simple clinical tool that accurately predicts a person’s risk of needing hospital care or dying from Covid-19 has been created by Oxford experts.
The ‘landmark’ mathematical model could help devise a targeted shielding programme.
It found the 5 per cent of the population most at risk account for three quarters of Covid deaths. This suggests that protecting them – by regularly testing people they meet regularly, for example – would slash the death rate while letting the rest of society return to normal.
The QCovid algorithm was developed using data from more than eight million patients at GP practices during the first wave, including age, ethnicity, obesity and existing illnesses.
Meanwhile, a study from the University of Edinburgh in the journal PLOS Medicine showed care home residents had a Covid risk 21 times higher than the general population.
Men’s was 63 per cent higher and heart disease patients had twice the risk.
It also challenged the idea that ‘all are at risk’ regardless of age, showing 84 per cent of severe or fatal cases in under-40s had been in hospital in the previous five years or given medication within 240 days.
This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk
Met Police apologise to black mother after officers made ‘racist assumptions’ when she was attacked
A black woman who was punched to the ground and stamped on by a gang of seven white men has claimed police made ‘racist assumptions’ about her and fellow victims – sparking a renewed investigation into the vile attack.
Niyad Farah, 38, who is of Somali heritage and was born in Wales but moved to London 13 years ago, was with two friends when the men launched their assault outside a 24-hour convenience store in north west London on December 22 last year.
The gang shouted racist abuse before physically attacking them, and the police categorised it as racially motivated grievous bodily harm with intent – just one down from murder.
Ms Farah, who works for a charity that helps ex-prisoners, was kicked unconscious in the attack and taken to St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington, where she was treated for head injuries and extensive bruising.
Niyad Farah, 38, who is of Somali heritage and was born in Wales but moved to London 13 years ago, was with two friends when a group of seven white men launched their racist assault outside a 24-hour convenience store in north west London on December 22 last year
Ms Farah, who works for a charity that helps ex-prisoners, was kicked unconscious in the attack and taken to St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington, where she was treated for head injuries and extensive bruising (pictured)
She claims that while she was being questioned in hospital, a constable asked her if she was ‘buying anything off’ her attackers and appeared to think this was a drugs deal gone wrong.
Ms Farah approached BBC Newsnight in January alleging the Met’s investigation had been seriously flawed and accused the police of making racist assumptions about her and her friends.
The Metropolitan Police has now reopened the investigation and apologised to the victims, following a probe by the programme.
Ms Farah told Newsnight she was punched to the ground and dragged into a doorway next to the shop.
Ms Farah claims that while she was being questioned in hospital, a constable asked her if she was ‘buying anything off’ her attackers and appeared to think this was a drugs deal gone wrong
‘I was like being stamped on… I was just curled up on the floor,’ she recalled.
‘I was thinking, “My son’s not going to have a mum.” And… I’m going to be dead.’
In a report airing tonight (Wednesday 21 October), BBC Newsnight found that officers failed to recover CCTV, find witnesses, or even to take statements from the victims.
The Met denies racist assumptions were made about the victims, but has apologised for failing the women and said its investigation is being reviewed ‘to ensure that we identify any organisational learning’.
Newsnight asked a senior former police officer to review the case. Robert Quick has 32 years of experience investigating violent crime.
Ms Farah approached BBC Newsnight in January alleging the Met’s investigation had been seriously flawed and accused the police of making racist assumptions about her and her friends. Pictured after the attack
Police categorised the attack as racially motivated grievous bodily harm with intent – just one down from murder. Pictured: Ms Farah’s head wound
He is former head of specialist operations at the Met, and before that was Chief Constable of Surrey Police.
Mr Quick told the programme that if the constable had asked whether the women were buying drugs from their attackers, ‘that does imply the officers at the scene were working on some sort of assumption that they either knew the perpetrators or were in some way engaging with them, maybe buying drugs or whatever’.
‘If that’s true, then that’s inexcusable,’ he added. ‘The police absolutely have a duty to be objective and not to jump to conclusions.’
The women believe racist assumptions undermined the police investigation but the Met denies the claim.
In a statement, the Met said: ‘This line of questioning should not be considered as an officer making any assumptions or doubting the account given by a victim, and we refute any suggestion that this is what happened in this case.
Ms Farah (pictured) and the other women believe racist assumptions undermined the police investigation but the Met denies the claim
‘Our officers always keep an open mind as to the circumstances of any attack and must build an understanding of the facts.
‘From a very early stage, this was treated as a serious racially aggravated assault committed by people unknown to the victims.’
Beyond this question, Newsnight’s investigation found that the police investigation was hampered by a series of serious, basic mistakes.
For nearly two weeks after the attack, no effort was made to recover CCTV, no witness statements were taken, even from the three women who had been attacked, and no effort was made to trace a dark-coloured van associated with the men.
By the time the police tried to recover CCTV from shops in Kilburn Lane in early January, footage had been recycled – overwritten by new material.
In a report airing tonight (Wednesday 21 October), BBC Newsnight found that officers failed to recover CCTV, find witnesses, or even to take statements from the victims. Pictured: Ms Farah now
Ms Farah said she was angry that the Met failed to take a statement from her until February – two months after the attack.
No statements from the other two women attacked – both witnesses – have ever been taken.
Mr Quick told Newsnight the Met’s response had been ‘woeful’, adding: ‘This was an attack of extreme violence… and it was about compounded by racial motivation, the evidence of which is clear. It had the potential to really impact on community confidence.’
In response to Newsnight’s investigation, the Metropolitan Police has apologised to the women. A spokesperson said the incident ‘should have been escalated and prioritised at an earlier stage’.
The Met said: ‘There was a delay in the necessary follow-up enquiries being made just after the incident, and this hindered the subsequent investigation.
‘This shouldn’t have happened, and we are sorry for letting the victims in this case down. This was an appalling attack which should have been investigated with greater urgency.’
Watch the full story on BBC Newsnight, BBC Two at 10:45pm tonight, and after that on BBC iPlayer.
This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk
BBC chairman claims over-50s think it is full of liberals while younger people believe the opposite
Over-50s think that the BBC is stuffed with Islington liberals while students believe it is part of the Right-wing establishment, the corporation’s chairman has admitted.
Sir David Clementi spoke about the age-related ‘bias’ accusations he claims are hampering the national broadcaster during an online event.
He said research revealed that about a quarter of the BBC audience thought it leant to the Left, while slightly less thought it leant to the Right.
‘But the interesting thing about it, is it is very age related,’ he said. ‘Once you get over 50 there are a significant number of people who are convinced that we all live in Islington… they’re convinced of it.
‘But if you speak to a younger generation they occasionally think we are part of the establishment and we lean to the Right.
Sir David Clementi, who is leaving his post as BBC Chairman in February, has said accusations of bias vary depending on the age of critics and claims they are hampering the corporation
‘When I was up in Salford earlier this year giving a speech… after the speech six or seven young students came up to me to berate me on the BBC’s performance in the December election, which they said had been so heavily biased towards the Conservatives they couldn’t believe it.’
He told the virtual event, held by campaign group the Voice of the Listener & Viewer: ‘There is a very big age-related issue around the matter of impartiality.
‘We take it seriously and getting letters from two people both arguing in different directions that we’ve failed doesn’t prove that we are right. But we work incredibly hard at it.’
Sir David, who is leaving his post in February, also admitted that the corporation ‘can do more’ to cover more upbeat news on its services, adding that there ‘never is a moment for a news bulletin of pure negativity’.
There have been claims that during the Covid-19 crisis it has not done enough to try to lift people’s spirits in its news coverage.
The BBC chairman warned that any moves to ‘diminish’ the broadcaster would be ‘an extraordinary act of self-harm’.
His comments come as the Government prepares to make major decisions about the BBC’s future including the next licence fee settlement and a decision on whether to decriminalise evasion of the licence fee.
Sir David said his successor as BBC chairman should be selected by an ‘open’ and ‘fair’ competition. He said it would be good if it was someone with a ‘genuine interest’ in content on radio and television.
Last month it was reported that Boris Johnson had offered the job to Charles Moore, ex-editor of The Daily Telegraph. Lord Moore has since ruled himself out.Among the names linked to it are former chancellor George Osborne, ex-culture secretary Baroness Morgan and former No 10 communications director Sir Robbie Gibb.
So when will the Beeb make a drama about a venal, lying LABOUR politician?
By Simon Walters for the Daily Mail
The following Tory politician may well sound familiar.
He is a shameless adulterer, has at least one illegitimate daughter, fell out with another, boasts he is a ‘character’, loves posing for ‘selfies’ with the public, says it is time to put Brexit ‘in the past’, and wants to depose a female Tory Prime Minister who despises him as much as he despises her.
There are no prizes for those who read the above and thought of Boris Johnson.
But every detail also applies to fictional Conservative politician Peter Laurence, played by Hugh Laurie in Roadkill, the BBC’s new blockbuster drama series.
Hugh Laurie stars as Peter Laurence, a Conservative politician who is also a shameless adulterer who boasts he is a ‘character’ in the new BBC drama Roadkill in what Simon Walters describes as a ‘thinly disguised anti-Boris hatchet job’ as he says the BBC is now left-leaning
Of course, it is possible that their extraordinary similarity is simply mere coincidence.
But given that the show’s author is veteran champagne socialist Sir David Hare and the film was broadcast by our left-leaning national broadcaster, I think not.
To give Sir David some credit, in a lame attempt to provide cover for his thinly disguised anti-Boris hatchet job, he has made Laurence more suburban than our Etonian leader.
He’s also relegated his show’s lead character to the rank of a Cabinet minister, not Prime Minister.
And for good measure, he’s even thrown in the characteristics of two other notorious Right-wingers hated by the Left.
Take the opening scene of the drama’s first episode, where Laurence emerges from court having lied his way out of a libel dispute with a Leftie journalist.
Such a scene could be taken straight from the real-life scandal of ex-Tory Cabinet minister Jonathan Aitken, jailed in 1999 for perjury and perverting the course of justice.
And secondly, in place of Johnson’s plummy vowels, Laurence speaks with the spivvy blokeishness of Nigel Farage.
After watching just one episode, it’s eminently clear that Roadkill is in the mould of the greatest modern political TV drama of all, House of Cards, first broadcast in Britain in 1990.
Like Roadkill, it was based on actual events: The fictional villain in House of Cards, Tory chief whip Francis Urquhart, played by Ian Richardson, will stop at nothing to succeed Margaret Thatcher as Prime Minister, including murder.
Episode 2 of Roadkill, starring Hugh Laurie (pictured) is available to stream on BBC iplayer
However, unlike Laurence, for all his evil Urquhart – famous for his sinister ‘You might think that, but I couldn’t possibly comment’ catchphrase – was not based on any particular contemporary politician. In fact, the same goes for many of the small screen’s most illustrious political dramas.
In America’s much-lauded The West Wing, for example, even though the President is a Democrat, viewers aren’t repeatedly hit over the head with a political sledgehammer Hare-style.
Instead, they are allowed to draw their own conclusions about him and his policies. Yet in Roadkill, it is spelled out loud and clear almost from the first frame that Johnson – sorry, Laurence – is an evil Conservative.
To remove any doubt that it is set in the here and now, Laurence says – during the kind of radio phone-in that Johnson revelled in as London mayor – ‘You have to forget about Brexit, it’s in the past now.’
It could have been taken straight out of Downing Street’s handbook for ministers: ‘Stop promising to “get Brexit done” – it’s been done already.’
And of course, no Hare drama about the Tories would be complete without a gratuitous dig at Thatcher, whom he once accused of ‘barbarism’.
Sure enough, Roadkill’s imperious Prime Minister Dawn Ellison, played by Helen McCrory, wears Aquascutum powder blue suits, and is introduced scoffing with contempt at rich Tory donors after they cough up £200,000 for the Conservative coffers at a No 10 drinks reception.
Predictably, the identity politics of today’s Left also make an appearance.
How else are we to explain the fact that more or less every white male character is portrayed as bad, while almost every ethnic minority one – from Laurence’s black barrister to his imprisoned illegitimate mixed-race daughter – are supposedly good?
Suffice to say that the plot of Roadkill is as unsubtle as the title: We are expected to believe that wily Laurence would agree to go to a female prison to suddenly meet someone claiming to be his illegitimate daughter; meanwhile the alcoholic Irish journalist on his case is determined to prove Laurence is involved in an Anglo-US plot to sell off – yes, you’ve guessed it – the NHS.
Shortly afterwards, when Laurence is told of a riot at the prison, he mutters he hopes there have been ‘deaths’, presumably his daughter among them. Could it be any more obvious that this Tory is supposed to be a baddie?
Helen McCrory, pictured, is at her best playing PM Dawn Ellison in her Aquascutum powder blue suits, and is introduced scoffing with contempt at rich Tory donors after they cough up £200,000 for the Conservative coffers at a No 10 drinks reception in the BBC’s Roadkill
Judging from episode one – I have not seen the rest – I wouldn’t be surprised if Laurence is caught out in another business conspiracy, this time involving the jail where his illegitimate daughter is imprisoned.
Or perhaps Laurence’s sordid ‘Jack the Lad’ days in Notting Hill a few decades ago will be used to drag in the Windrush immigration scandal. I wouldn’t bet against it.
No doubt every type of anti-Boris and anti-Conservative trope will be trotted out by Hare before the four-part series reaches a predictably anti-Tory climax.
As the Tory MP Andrew Bridgen put it, ‘If they did the same for a Left-wing character it would probably be classed as a hate crime.’
This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk
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