THE chief of a call centre outsourcing firm in the North-East is warning bosses of the increased risk of data breaches due to Covid-driven changes in work.

Martin Anderson, managing director of Teesside-based Lemon Business Solutions, has warned that remote working is no excuse for lax data management.

Mr Anderson says a combination of remote working and increased call volumes mean organisations could find themselves compromising data protection.

The Stockton outsourcing boss said: “Many businesses continue to be overwhelmed by the number of calls they receive, citing Covid-19 and working from home in cases of lengthy waiting times.

"There is a real risk that where there are staff shortages and a lack of resources, call centres could find themselves open to data breaches.

“We know what lockdowns have in store and are now much more prepared to deal with the challenges.

"For example, in our own industry, we know that lockdowns have resulted in significant spikes in calls to call centres.

"The industry is booming, and we expect that this trend will continue throughout the current lockdown and into the future.

“We need to continue to comply with the Data Protection Act and GDPR as we work from home. As a company we have made sure that we are continuing to deliver the same, if not better, data protection and I would advise other businesses to follow suit.

"Lockdown is no longer a new thing and it is imperative that we continue to provide the highest quality data protection for our callers, whether we work from home or from the office."

The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) believes online criminals have been especially active during the pandemic as they know that people are using the internet more than normal.

This could also mean they are less familiar with what precautions to take when shopping online, using email or storing data.

With the lines between work and private life blurring, the non-profit organisation says there is increased risk malicious cyberattacks taking place as staff may be using personal devices for work and work devices for recreation.

Employees can be caught out via tried-and-tested hacking techniques likes phishing.

Research by NCSC found a 440 per cent rise in shipping-related phishing emails in November to December.

This is where criminals imitate emails from retailers and suppliers to try and scam the recipient into handing over personal details to then steal their email address and password.