1.5bn sensitive files are exposed on the internet

More than 1.5 billion sensitive files - ranging from payslips to medical scans - are visible on the open internet, according to a new report.
Security researchers have warned the documents are "freely available" to anyone with minimal technical knowhow, and 36% of the exposed files were located in the European Union.
Confidential corporate data - including details of yet-to-be-released products - were also out in the open.In one case, a point of sale terminal was leaking data on customer transactions, times, places, and even partial credit card numbers.:: Web users faking their data due to security fears
1.5bn sensitive files are exposed on the internet

The UK was the fourth worst offender in Europe. Pic: Digital Shadows
The report by Digital Shadows, a risk intelligence company, comes ahead of strict new privacy laws which could see businesses fined if they mishandle data.The Government has warned that companies need to be prepared for when the rules come into force on 25 May, as they could be fined 4% of global turnover for non-compliance.Rafael Amado, Digital Shadows' strategy and research analyst, told Sky News that the "sheer quantity" of unprotected data was staggering - but the quality of the data was "really interesting too".At 200 million files, the US was the country with the highest level of exposure. Germany was the worst offender in Europe followed by France, Italy and the UK.
Over the first three months of 2018, the firm found over one and a half billion (1,550,447,111) files open across a number of misconfigured file sharing services.The amount of data is equal to more than twelve petabytes (12 million gigabytes) - and if it was stored in standard 4GB USB drives, they would weigh more than 3,000 unladen Ford Fiestas.:: How much dirt do social networks have on you?
1.5bn sensitive files are exposed on the internet

Businesses are being warned poor practices could cost them 4% of their global turnover
Mr Amado warned there is "a lot of data leakage occurring" - and businesses need to be wary as it could make it easier for hackers and rival companies to steal their information.Poor security practices in file-sharing protocols and servers were primarily to blame, the company's report added.Earlier this year, Digital Secretary Matt Hancock said: "We are strengthening the UK's data protection laws to make them fit for the digital age by giving people more control over their own data.
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"And as these figures show many organisations still need to act to make sure the personal data they hold is secure and they are prepared for our Data Protection Bill."There is a wealth of free help and guidance available from the Information Commissioner's Office and the National Cyber Security Centre, and I encourage all those affected to take it up."
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