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#TalkTalk: 4m Customers’ Personal Data Compromised In Breach at UK ISP

UK ISP TalkTalk has been the victim of what it called a “significant and sustained” cyberattack on its website in which hackers may have gained access to personal data of up to over four million people.

The attack, what may the biggest of its kind on a household UK firm, happened some time on 22 October and almost a day later the full extent the breach has yet to be finalized. However, TalkTalk conceded that “there is a chance” the compromised data includes company  names, addresses, date of birth, phone numbers, email addresses, account information, and, most worryingly,  credit card and/or bank details.

TalkTalk said that it was continuing to work with leading cybercrime specialists and the Metropolitan Police Cyber Crime Unit to establish exactly what happened and the extent of any information accessed. It added that immediately it had contacted all of its customers and major banks who would be monitoring for any suspicious activity on customers’ accounts.

Despite admitting to the successful attack, TalkTalk insisted that it takes any threat to the security of customers’ data very seriously and that it constantly reviewed and updated systems to make sure they were as secure as possible. In a statement attempting to explain what happened it said: “We’re taking all the necessary steps to understand this incident and to protect as best we can against similar attacks in future. Unfortunately cyber-criminals are becoming increasingly sophisticated and attacks against companies which do business online are becoming more frequent.”

This is the third time in 2015 that the TalkTalk site has been targeted. Customers were warned in March 2015 about scam mail messages after account names and numbers had been accessed and in August 2015 TalkTalk’s mobile sales site, among other such firms' in the UK, was the focus of an attack on one of its providers.

Following this latest breach TalkTalk CEO Dido Harding took the unprecedented step of reaching out to mass media including a face to face interview on a flagship BBC’s flagship news program in order to use all available mainstream channels to warn customers of the attack. She attempted to assure that its website was now secure again and TV, broadband, mobile and phone services had not been affected by the attack.

She added: “TalkTalk constantly updates its systems to make sure they are as secure as possible against the rapidly evolving threat of cybercrime, impacting an increasing number of individuals and organizations.”

TalkTalk says that its website is now secure and advised customers to change their passwords when they log on and monitor their credit history for suspicious activity. Yet as of the morning of 23 October, the TalkTalk website was still unavailable. The company simply posted a message saying “sorry we are currently facing technical issues, our engineers are working hard to fix it. We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.”

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