Data Breach Alert: Parker-Hannifin Corporation | Console and Associates, P.C. | #itsecurity | #infosec

On April 5, 2022, Parker-Hannifin Corporation filed a notice with the Security and Exchange Commission describing a recent data security incident that the company believes exposed the personal information of certain employees.

If you received a data breach notification, it is essential you understand what is at risk.

“I speak to data breach victims almost every day, and many don’t fully grasp the impact a breach can have,” attorney Richard P. Console, Jr. said. “Once your sensitive personal data falls into the hands of cybercriminals, you have a much higher risk of identity theft for the rest of your life. If a company allows your personal data to be stolen, holding that company accountable through a class action lawsuit may be the only way to obtain fair compensation and to send a message to other companies to be more careful.”

On average, victims of identity theft spend 200 hours and over $1,300 recovering their identity. Many victims also suffer emotional distress, incur credit damage, discover loans taken out in their name without their knowledge, and may even end up with a criminal record for crimes they did not commit. Taking immediate action is the best way to prevent the worst consequences of a data breach.

What We Know So Far About the Parker Hannifin Data Breach

According to an official SEC filing by the company, on April 5, 2022, Hannifin Parker learned that an unauthorized party gained access to the company’s computer systems. The breach date was listed as March 14, 2022. In response. Hannifin Parker launched an investigation to learn more about the incident, as well as the specific information that was compromised. While the company has not yet determined the extent of the compromised data, it expressed that “the Company believes some data was accessed and taken and may include personal information of Company team members.”

Should Parker-Hannifin confirm that employee data was leaked, the company will likely send out data breach notification letters in the future.

Parker-Hannifin is a company that creates various technologies for the aerospace and manufacturing sectors. Parker operates in 50 countries, bringing products to customers in 113 countries across the world. The company’s headquarters is in Cleveland, Ohio. Parker-Hannifin employs approximately 55,000 people worldwide and generates roughly $15 billion in annual revenue. The company is traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol “PH.”

More About the Causes and Risks of Data Breaches

Often, data breaches are the result of a hacker gaining unauthorized access to a company’s computer systems with the intention of obtaining sensitive consumer or employee information. While no one can know the reason why a hacker targeted Parker, it is common for hackers and other criminals to identify those companies believed to have weak data security systems or vulnerabilities in their networks.

Once a cybercriminal gains access to a computer network, they can then access and remove any data stored on the compromised servers. While in most cases a company experiencing a data breach can identify which files were accessible, there may be no way for it to tell which files the hacker actually accessed or whether they removed any data.

While the fact that your information was compromised in a data breach does not necessarily mean it will be used for criminal purposes, being the victim of a data breach puts your sensitive data in the hands of someone you don’t know and may have criminal intentions. As a result, you are at an increased risk of identity theft and other frauds, and criminal use of your information is a possibility that should not be ignored.

Given this reality, employees who receive a Parker-Hannifin data breach notification should take the situation seriously and remain vigilant in checking for any signs of unauthorized activity. Businesses like Parker are responsible for protecting the consumer data in their possession. If evidence emerges that Parker failed to adequately protect your sensitive information, you may be eligible for financial compensation through a data breach lawsuit.

What Are Employees’ Remedies in the Wake of the Parker Data Breach?

When employees took a job with Parker, they assumed that the company would take their privacy concerns seriously. And it goes without saying that employees would think twice before working for a company if they knew the company wasn’t going to keep their information secure. Thus, data breaches such as this one raise questions about the adequacy of a company’s data security system.

When a business, government entity, non-profit organization, school, or any other organization accepts and stores employee data, it also accepts a legal obligation to ensure this information remains private. The United States data breach laws allow employees to pursue civil data breach claims against organizations that fail to protect their information.

Of course, given the recency of the Parker Hannifin data breach, the investigation into the incident is still in its early stages. And, as of right now, there is not yet any evidence suggesting Parker is legally responsible for the breach. However, that could change as additional information about the breach and its causes is revealed.

If you have questions about your ability to bring a data breach class action lawsuit against Parker-Hannifin, reach out to a data breach attorney as soon as possible.

What Should You Do if You Receive a Parker-Hannifin Data Breach Notification?

If Parker Hannifin sends you a data breach notification letter, you are among those employees whose information was compromised in the recent breach. While this isn’t a time to panic, the situation warrants your attention. Below are a few important steps you can take to protect yourself from identity theft and other fraudulent activity:

  1. Identify What Information Was Compromised: The first thing to do after learning of a data breach is to carefully review the data breach letter sent. The letter will tell you what information of yours was accessible to the unauthorized party. Be sure to make a copy of the letter and keep it for your records. If you have trouble understanding the letter or what steps you can take to protect yourself, a data breach lawyer can help.

  2. Limit Future Access to Your Accounts: Once you determine what information of yours was affected by the breach, the safest play is to assume that the hacker orchestrating the attack stole your data. While this may not be the case, it’s better to be safe than sorry. To prevent future access to your accounts, you should change all passwords and security questions for any online account. This includes online banking accounts, credit card accounts, online shopping accounts, and any other account containing your personal information. You should also consider changing your social media account passwords and setting up multi-factor authentication where it is available.

  3. Protect Your Credit and Your Financial Accounts: After a data breach, employers often provide affected parties with free credit monitoring services. Signing up for the free credit monitoring offers some significant protections and doesn’t impact any of your rights to pursue a data breach lawsuit against your employer if it turns out they were legally responsible for the breach. You should contact a credit bureau to request a copy of your credit report—even if you do not notice any signs of fraud or unauthorized activity. Adding a fraud alert to your account will provide you with additional protection.

  4. Consider Implementing a Credit Freeze: A credit freeze prevents anyone from accessing your credit report. Credit freezes are free and stay in effect until you remove them. Once a credit freeze is in place, you can temporarily lift the freeze if you need to apply for any type of credit. While placing a credit freeze on your accounts may seem like overkill, given the risks involved, it’s justified. According to the Identity Theft Resource Center (“ITRC”), placing a credit freeze on your account is the “single most effective way to prevent a new credit/financial account from being opened.” However, just 3% of data breach victims place a freeze on their accounts.

  5. Regularly Monitor Your Credit Report and Financial Accounts: Protecting yourself in the wake of a data breach requires an ongoing effort on your part. You should regularly check your credit report and all financial account statements, looking for any signs of unauthorized activity or fraud. You should also call your banks and credit card companies to report the fact that your information was compromised in a data breach.

Below is a copy of the recent Parker-Hannifin Corporation SEC filing:

Dear [Consumer],

On March 14, 2022, Parker-Hannifin Corporation (the “Company” or “Parker”) detected that a third party gained unauthorized access to the Company’s systems. The Company immediately activated incident response protocols, which included shutting down certain systems and commencing an investigation of the incident, which is ongoing. The Company also notified and is working with relevant law enforcement authorities, and engaged legal counsel and other third-party incident response and cybersecurity professionals. While the Company’s investigation is ongoing, the Company believes some data was accessed and taken and may include personal information of Company team members.

Based on its preliminary assessment and on the information currently known, the incident has not had a significant financial or operational impact and the Company does not believe the incident will have a material impact on its business, operations or financial results. The Company’s business systems are fully operational, and the Company maintains insurance, subject to certain deductibles and policy limitations typical for its size and industry.

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