Leaked email claims Optionis is denying responsibility for incident

Optionis Group is denying responsibility for a knowledge breach that led to tens of hundreds of contractors having their private data shared on the darkish internet earlier this yr, a leaked email seen by Computer Weekly suggests.

The group, which owns the Parasol umbrella firm and several other contractor-focused accountancy companies, is the topic of a bunch motion that is in search of compensation for contractors whose private information was compromised by the breach, which got here to mild in February 2022. 

The motion is being overseen by London-based legislation agency Keller Lenkner, and was launched quickly after it emerged that Optionis Group had suffered a knowledge breach linked to a suspected ransomware assault on its methods 5 weeks earlier than.  

As reported by Computer Weekly in February 2022, the information breach resulted in a sizeable dump of non-public data rising on the darkish internet, belonging to contractors who have been both employed by Optionis’s umbrella corporations or relied on its accountancy companies.

Despite assurances from Optionis that it could notify any contractors whose private data had been compromised on account of the breach in a well timed method, Computer Weekly spoke to a number of IT contractors in February 2022 who had determined to entry the information dump themselves to go looking for their very own information after rising pissed off on the time it was taking Optionis to do it. 

During the intervening months, the Keller Lenkner group motion has rumbled on, with the legislation agency issuing an announcement in April 2022 confirming that its investigation into the breach confirmed it had grounds to accuse the corporate of being in “flagrant breach” of the UK General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

The assertion additionally mentioned victims of the breach had a “solid and winnable case”, prompting Keller Lenkner to problem a discover of potential declare towards Optionis.

However, it seems that Optionis disagrees, primarily based on an email – seen by Computer Weekly – despatched in latest days by Keller Lenkner to contractors taking part in its group motion.

“In our last update, we advised… we had written to Optionis to seek more information about the cyber attack and to ask for copies of the various documents, such as copies of any reports produced about the cause of the cyber attack which will assist us in determining the next steps of the claim,” mentioned the email.

“We have now received a response from solicitors Pinsent Mason, who are working for Optionis; they have denied any liability to pay any compensation and refused to provide the requested documents.”

As a outcome, the Keller Lenkner email confirmed that the legislation agency is now making ready a “letter of claim”, to which Optionis can have 21 days to formally reply. “Once we have their response, if they maintain a denial, then we will have to prepare to issue the claim at court,” it mentioned.

Given the 21-day timeframe for a response from Optionis, the email concluded by stating that the legislation agency expects to be ready to replace the group declare members in mid-to-late June 2022.

In an announcement to Computer Weekly, Keller Lenkner verified the content material of the email, and mentioned Optionis Group’s authorized group has issued a “strong blanket denial of responsibility for the cyber attack and subsequent data breach”.

It added: “We are preparing a ‘letter of claim’ on behalf of those affected by the data breach and if the claim is not resolved, we will make a full submission to the court. On behalf of our clients, we maintain that the exposure of their data, both personal and sensitive, has caused significant issues and distress.”

Computer Weekly contacted Optionis Group for a response to Keller Lenkner’s claims that it was refusing at hand over paperwork in regards to the cyber assault and was denying responsibility for the incident. 

The firm mentioned in an announcement to Computer Weekly: “Since the cyber safety incident we suffered earlier within the yr, our high precedence as a enterprise has been investigating the exact nature of the knowledge that was copied from our methods in the course of the assault.

“We have dedicated appreciable sources to this course of and there is presently a considerable group conducting a evaluate of the impacted information that may enable us to establish the place there is a excessive danger to any particular person.

“This has been a long and complicated process; however, it remains our absolute priority to establish the impact on personal data and to communicate with those affected. We would like to thank our partners, clients and employees for their patience as we continue to respond to this incident.” 

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