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Parasol (Optionis) data breach

Cybercriminals could have accessed the personal information of contractors and employees.
Keller Postman UK can help victims to claim compensation.

Get justice for the Parasol data breach

In January 2022, Parasol Group shut down some of its systems after it discovered “malicious activity” on its network.

Parasol is an umbrella company used by contractors across the UK to manage their payments. By taking down its systems in a multi-day outage, many contractor salary payments were delayed.

Parasol confirmed that a cyberattack was to blame for the incident. This is widely speculated to be a ransomware attack. Parasol later admitted that personal data was accessed by cybercriminals. Some of this data has been shared online.

The Keller Postman UK investigators believe that the following contractor data was accessed in the breach:

Parasol employee data is also thought to be affected.

Keller Postman UK has launched an action to help those involved in the Parasol (Optionis) data security failure.  We strongly urge anyone affected to register with us.

IF YOU ARE AFFECTED BY THE PARASOL DATA BREACH, CONTACT US TO MAKE A NO-WIN, NO-FEE COMPENSATION CLAIM.

The compromised information belongs to Parasol’s parent company, Optionis.

Other companies owned by Optionis include:

Our investigations show that the following businesses were affected by the same cyberattack: Optionis, Optionis Group, Parasol, Arkarius Midco, Arkarius Bidco, Optionis Midco, SJD Accountancy, Nixon Williams, First Freelance, First Umbrella, Optionis Bidco, Clearsky Accountancy and Payroll, Optionis Management, Clearsky Contractor Accounting, Silverline Performance, Wheatley Pearce, Arc Licensed Trade Consultancy, Brian Alfred, and Arnsco.

Together, these businesses provide services to tens of thousands of contractors. Customers of these businesses may also have had their data stolen.

Why claim Parasol data breach compensation?

Hold the guilty party to account for failing to protect your private information.

Receive financial compensation for your losses.

Force organisations to implement better data security.

Those affected by the Parasol cyber-attack could be at risk

If your data was compromised in this incident, but it has not yet been shared on the dark web, there is no guarantee that this won’t happen.

The hackers might also choose to sell the records to other criminals.

Similar data breaches have resulted in fraud, blackmail, identity theft and more, so many contractors are experiencing high levels of distress.

Those affected by the incident could have a compensation claim.

REGISTER TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THE PARASOL GROUP ACTION.

Talk to our expert data breach lawyers today on 0151 459 5850

Parasol Data Breach Timeline

  • 10 January 2022
    Parasol contractors began experiencing technical difficulties with the company’s online systems.
  • 12 January 2022
    Parasol confirmed that it was experiencing a systems outage.
  • 16 January 2022
    A statement from Parasol confirmed that its issues were due to malicious activity on its networks.
  • 3 February 2022
    Computer Weekly reported that many contractors were still experiencing payment issues.
  • 7 February 2022
    Parasol admitted that “some data” had been copied and leaked online since the cyber-attack.
  • 10 October 2023
    The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) issued a reprimand for Optionis Group Limited for a withdrawal of personal data after a cyber-attack.

Latest News

WHAT IS A GROUP ACTION?

 

Find out more about making a group action claim for compensation.

WHAT DOES NO-WIN, NO-FEE MEAN?

 

What does no-win, no-fee actually mean and are there really no costs if you appoint us?

JOIN OUR NO-WIN, NO-FEE PARASOL GROUP ACTION

Why use Keller Postman UK to make a claim?

We are one of the most experienced multi-claimant law firms in the UK.

We represent clients in group actions with innovation, resources, and expertise.

We work with expert barristers to ensure you get the very best level of legal support available.

We have all the resources and global expertise necessary to take on complicated cases and win.

We have offices in Chancery Lane London, Birmingham and Liverpool, and the technology to provide a nationwide service, so we can help clients across England & Wales.

We use technology to deliver a better legal experience to our clients.

We work on a no-win, no-fee basis.

We make the process straightforward and hassle-free.

A complete guide to the Parasol/Optionis data breach

Following the Parasol/Optionis data breach, Keller Postman UK began a group action to help victims of this privacy violation claim compensation.  Here’s our guide to the data breach to help you find out if you have a claim, and what you need to do to secure justice for the violation of your data protection rights.  

How did the Parasol Group/Optionis data breach happen? 

In January 2022, Parasol Group shut down some of its systems after it discovered “malicious activity” on its network. Parasol is an umbrella company used by contractors across the UK to manage their payments. By taking down its systems in a multi-day outage, many contractor salary payments were delayed. Parasol confirmed that a cyberattack was to blame for the incident. This is believed to be a ransomware attack.

Parasol later admitted that personal data was accessed by cybercriminals. Some of this data has since been shared online. 

Parasol employee records may also have been breached

As well as Parasol contractor information, we believe that some Parasol employee data was also exposed. 

If you are a Parasol employee concerned that your employer has not kept your private and confidential information safe, you can claim compensation. Crucially, an employer cannot fire you, or harm your career in any way if you make a claim. Parasol would be breaking the law if it did. 

Parasol contractors must protect their finances

Victims of data breaches often become the target of cybercriminals, so Parasol contractors must take immediate steps to protect their finances. If you are worried that you could be at risk, you should: 

Were you involved in the Parasol Group/Optionis data breach? 

If you are a Parasol customer or employee, you could be affected by this breach. Parasol has a legal obligation to tell you if your information is compromised. However, we do not believe that Parasol has notified and identified everyone whose data was accessed. 

The compromised information belongs to Parasol’s parent company, Optionis. So, in addition to affecting Parasol, customers of other businesses may also have had their data stolen.   

Our investigations show that the following businesses were affected by the same cyberattack: Optionis, Optionis Group, Parasol, Arkarius Midco, Arkarius Bidco, Optionis Midco, SJD Accountancy, Nixon Williams, First Freelance, First Umbrella, Optionis Bidco, Clearsky Accountancy and Payroll, Optionis Management, Clearsky Contractor Accounting, Silverline Performance, Wheatley Pearce, Arc Licensed Trade Consultancy, Brian Alfred, and Arnsco. 

Together, these businesses provide services to tens of thousands of contractors.

How has the data breach impacted victims?

A data breach can result in both financial and identity theft. With enough stolen information, cybercriminals can apply for credit in your name, set up fraudulent bank accounts, use your cards to make payments, and access your existing accounts. Criminals also use stolen data in scams designed to extract additional information from victims (e.g., banking passwords). And hackers often sell stolen data to other criminals for future scams. If your data was compromised in this incident, but it has not yet been shared on the dark web, there is no guarantee that this won’t happen.  

Similar data breaches have resulted in fraud, blackmail, identity theft and more, so many contractors are experiencing high levels of distress. Even if no money is lost, the impact of a data breach can be significant. Many victims suffer from stress, anxiety, and distress due to living with the added risk and the extra vigilance needed.  

Where is our case up to?

We have been investigating the Parasol/Optionis data breach to discover what happened, how it happened, and how it affected customers and employees. We believe that: 

Ultimately, we believe that Optionis is guilty of flagrant breaches of the United Kingdom General Data Protection Regulation (UK GDPR). We also believe that victims of this data breach have a solid and winnable case. As such, we have taken formal steps against the business and have issued a notice of potential claim against Optionis Group Limited for the Parasol data breach.  

While Parasol Group/Optionis  was the victim of a cyber-attack, the company controlled your personal information and had a duty to look after it. We believe that poor security processes allowed the breach to happen, so Option is responsible and must be held to account.  

The ICO's investigation

On 10 October 2023, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) issued a reprimand for Optionis Group Limited for a withdrawal of personal data after a cyber-attack. According to the data protection regulator, Optionis did not have appropriate measures in place for the security of its systems, and the breach was a “real example of what can happen when the right security measures are not in place”.  

During its investigation the ICO discovered that:  

      • Optionis did not have appropriate organisational measures in place to ensure the confidentiality and integrity of its systems. 
      • Had the necessary security elements been in place, Optionis could have significantly reduced the likelihood of a successful attack 
      • Optionis held personal data for longer than was necessary  
      • Optionis took 11 months to notify all individuals of the breach 
      • Work from home arrangements had been in place for approximately 2 years before the incident took place. 

Taking into account all the circumstances of the case, the ICO decided to issue a reprimand to Optionis in relation to the infringements of the UK General Data Protection Regulation. However, Optionis will not be fined for its poor data security practices. So, it could be argued that it has gotten away lightly.  
 

Help & support following the Parasol Group/Optionis data breach

Our data protection solicitors have listed some helpful links to ensure victims of the Parasol Group/Optionis data breach know where they can turn. 

Victim Support

The leading independent victim’s charity in England and Wales for people affected by crime and traumatic incidents. 

The Samaritans

If you are struggling emotionally after a data breach, you can call the Samaritans free from any phone. 

Mind

Provides advice, information, onward referral, and holistic support to people experiencing mental ill-health and drug/alcohol difficulties (which could be exacerbated following the hack). The service can also support people who have been a victim of crime. 

Action Fraud

Victims of online offences such as scams and financial/identity fraud following the Parasol Group/Optionis data hack should contact Action Fraud to report their loss. 

Get Safe Online

A source of unbiased, factual, and easy-to-understand information on online safety with guidance to protect you from fraud, identity theft and abuse. 

Take Five to Stop Fraud

Impartial advice to help everyone in the UK protect themselves against financial fraud. 

Choosing a Parasol Group/Optionis data breach solicitor

At Keller Postman UK, we understand that choosing a data breach solicitor can be daunting. How do you know if it is the right firm for you? To make the process a little bit easier, here are some questions you should ask when choosing a Parasol Group/Optionis data breach lawyer. 

Is your firm a data breach expert?

Most firms do not have lawyers who are experts in data breach law. But at Keller Postman UK, we have a dedicated team of data protection experts led by Kingsley Hayes – arguably the UK’s foremost data breach solicitor. Our data breach solicitors are at the forefront of data breach legal services. And, because we have been doing this for longer than most, we lead our field when it comes to understanding the complexities involved. We know what it takes to make a successful data breach claim. 

How much will it cost to me to claim with your data breach lawyers?

Some firms will offer their services on a no-win, no-fee basis. This means that, if you do not win, you shouldn’t have to pay a penny. But be careful to check the small print. With Keller Postman UK: 

  • If you lose, you won’t owe us anything and there are no hidden fees or admin charges. We also take out insurance to protect our clients from having to pay the other side’s legal costs.  
  • If you win, you will have to contribute towards your data breach lawyer’s costs. This ‘success fee’ is taken from the compensation awarded to you. Our success fee is one of the most competitive around.  
How much experience do you have managing data breach group actions?

Several UK firms have knowledge of multi-claimant litigation, but it is worth checking to see if they have specifically managed multiple data breach group actions. At Keller Postman UK, we are currently managing several significant data breach group actions. And we have secured settlements against big players such as British Airways and Ticketmaster.  

Do you have the resources to go the distance?

When it comes to legal support, large organisations are smarter and better resourced than ever before. And it can be difficult for some law firms to stand up to such strength. At Keller Postman UK, we have the legal expertise and resources necessary to take on corporate giants with deep pockets. We support thousands of multi-claimant and group-action clients, and we can do the same for you.  

What evidence do you need to join our Parasol Group/Optionis group action?

If Parasol informs you that your data is involved in this breach, you can join our no-win, no-fee compensation claim. There are no costs to register and no obligation to proceed. We will also ask you for some other evidence to ensure we make the strongest possible claim on your behalf.  

Details of any phishing attacks or scams you have experienced that you believe are linked to the data breach

Many of our clients have seen a rise in attempted phishing scams since the data hack. If you have experienced phishing, or other scam attempts, that you believe are linked to this data breach, please make a note of these, and keep any evidence.  

Details of any money lost because of the data breach

If you have experienced any financial loss because of this data breach, please make a note of this and keep any evidence (e.g., bank statements, correspondence, etc.). Even if your financial data wasn’t breached, you could still have lost money if a phishing scammer has used your personal data against you. 

Details of any mental health conditions caused or made worse because of the data breach

If you have experienced emotional distress because of this data breach, please make a note of this and keep any evidence (e.g. details about medical appointments/prescriptions that relate to this data breach). 

Details of any expenses or inconvenience incurred

Following a data breach, people often have to spend a significant amount of time on the phone with their bank and credit reference agencies. Sometimes, there are travel costs and medical expenses required. And it might be possible to add these to your claim. 

It is not unusual that – on reviewing a data breach impact form – we uncover information that allows us to increase the value of a claim significantly. What might seem irrelevant to you could make a massive difference in the eyes of the law. So please keep a hold of anything that might be useful. 

Your questions answered

See our answers to the FAQs we get asked about the Parasol data security incident.

Parasol Group shut down some of its systems after it discovered “malicious activity” on its network. The incident, which is believed to be a ransomware attack, resulted in the exfiltration of some contractor and employee information. This data was then posted online.

The stolen information includes personal and financial contractor data. Some employee information is also thought to be affected.

If you are a Parasol customer or employee, you could be affected by this breach. Parasol has a legal obligation to tell you if your information is compromised. However, Parasol has not yet identified whose data was accessed.

Anyone who thinks they might be involved should take immediate steps to protect themselves. 

If Parasol informs you that your data is involved in this breach, you can join our no-win, no-fee compensation claim. There are no costs to register and no obligation to proceed.

A group action claim is where a group of people – sometimes even thousands of people – have been affected by the same issue. Group action cases are also known (here or in the US) as class actions, multi-claimant or multi-party actions. 

A group action allows people with the same type of claim to bring it together on a collective basis. This strengthens their overall position and makes big organisations take the matter seriously. This increases the claimant’s chances of settlement or success in litigation. 

Just because your case is part of a group action doesn’t mean that everyone will receive the same amount of compensation if successful. All claims are settled based on their merits, and you will receive what you are owed. 

If you are part of a group action with another firm and you would like to know more about switching to Keller Postman UK, contact us today.  

There are no costs to join a claim. However, if your claim is successful, you may have to pay a ‘success fee’. This fee is taken from the compensation awarded to you. At Keller Postman UK, our success fee is competitive, and we make sure you are fully informed about any potential costs before you officially join our action. If you lose, you won’t have to pay a penny.

What can you claim for?

While each case is judged on its own merits, there are some things we would typically look for when it comes to when claiming compensation following a data breach, cybercrime or other GDPR violation:

Financial loss

With stolen data, cybercriminals can make purchases using your bank and credit cards, apply for credit in your name, set up fraudulent bank accounts and access your existing online accounts.

Distress

GDPR failures, cybercrime and data breaches can have a significant impact on you, both mentally and physically. They can cause or exacerbate anxiety, stress and other psychological conditions.

Loss of privacy

Your data has value, and organisations must be held to account if they fail to protect your right to data privacy or otherwise do not uphold your GDPR rights.
 

How to protect yourself following a data breach or cybercrime

  • Contact your bank or credit card provider immediately if your financial data has been exposed.
  • Check all bills and emails for goods or services you have not ordered.
  • Check your bank account for unfamiliar transactions.
  • Alert your bank or credit card provider immediately if there is any suspicious activity.
  • Monitor your credit score for any unexpected dips.
  • Call Credit, Experian and Equifax to ensure credit isn’t taken out in your name.
  • Never provide your PIN or full password to anyone (even someone claiming to be from your bank).
  • Never been pressured into moving money to another account for fraud reasons. A legitimate bank won’t ask you to do this.
  • Follow the security instructions provided by the organisation that breached your data.
  • Never automatically click on any suspicious links or downloads in emails or texts.
  • Don’t assume an email or phone call is authentic just because someone has your details.
  • Be careful who you trust – criminals often use scare tactics to try and trick you into revealing your security details.
  • Know that, even if you recognise a name or number, it might not be genuine.
  • Don’t be rushed or pressured into making a decision. A trustworthy organisation would never force you to make a financial transaction on the spot.
  • Never provide your full password, pin or security code to someone over the phone (or via message). If a bank believes a transaction has been fraudulent, they will not ask for this information to cancel the transaction.
  • Listen to your instincts and ask questions if something feels “off”.
  • Refuse requests for personal or financial information and stop discussions if you are at all unsure.
  • Contact your bank or financial service provider on a number you know and trust to check if a communication is genuine.
  • Be cautious of unsolicited communications that refer you to a web page asking for personal data.
  • Don’t accept friend requests from people you don’t know on social media.
  • Review your online privacy settings.
  • Report suspected fraud attempts to the police and Action Fraud.
  • Register with the Cifas protective registration service to slow down credit applications made in your name.
  • Change your passwords regularly and use a different password for every account (a password manager can help with this).
  • Protect your devices with up-to-date internet security software.

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