British businesses say cyber attacks constant

24 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

TalkTalk accused of ‘covering up’ scale of ‘jihadi’ cyber attack that put four million customer’s bank details at risk.

TalkTalk is facing accusations of a “cover up” over one of the largest cyber hacks in British history, after claims emerged from customers who say they were targeted by scams almost a week before the company went public about the attack.A leading business group has urged the government to take more action on cybercrime after hackers seized the personal information and bank details of up to 4 million TalkTalk customers. Police are investigating a ransom demand sent to the telecoms company after its chief executive, Dido Harding, said a person claiming to be the hacker had contacted her directly and demanded money in exchange for the data.

Mr Vaz, chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee, told the Daily Telegraph suggestions TalkTalk has covered up ‘both the scale and duration’ of the attack should be probed. ‘We went public with this within 36 hours. However, as early as Friday the previous week, customers suffered attacks on their home computers as well as scam calls by thieves who knew their names and account details, The Telegraph reports.

Oliver Parry, the Institute of Directors’ senior corporate governance adviser, told the BBC that police should make cybercrime an urgent priority, but added that companies “are ultimately responsible for protecting their customers’ data”. There have been questions about how well TalkTalk secured its customers’ data after Harding admitted she did not know whether details including names, addresses and bank account numbers were encrypted.

The Guardian features an interview with a man who said he nearly fell victim to a “very convincing scam” on Wednesday morning – more than 24 hours before TalkTalk’s announcement – in which perpetrators hijacked his internet connection and then telephoned him pretending to be from TalkTalk support. TalkTalk has been heavily criticised after leaving customers’ data unencrypted, meaning the information will now be easy for anyone who finds it to see. She said the UK had been “a little bit tardy” in waking up to the scale of the threat but must now seek tougher rules to ensure data was protected. “The time is rapidly approaching when we have got to have a debate in this country about do we expect companies who are holding massive amounts of public data to be able to show that they are putting in place the necessary security precautions … about whether there needs to be a better regulatory framework,” Blears told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. “We could do it through a code, we could do it through government contracting.

Each attack saw customers’ personal data breached and then apparently sold on to criminals, who used the easy access to attempt to scam those on the list. Following the hack, the company said any customers who notice unusual activity on their accounts should contact their bank and Action Fraud, the UK’s national fraud and internet crime reporting centre.

When such sensitive data as bank details have been compromised, companies have a duty to warn customers immediately.” A spokesman said: “We haven’t been covering up anything. Hilary Foster, a barrister’s clerk from Surbiton, south-west London, found that scammers had tried to go on a shopping spree funded from her bank account.

All of the information must be stored behind layers and layers of security, and put in different virtual ‘compartments’ so that cyber-thieves who manage to get their hands on any data will have to break through many more layers of security before they are able to piece together a full picture. The guy really sounded like he was in a TalkTalk call centre.’ Asked by Channel 4 if the company had failed to invest in sufficiently tough online security following two previous attacks, she replied: ‘In retrospect – absolutely.

Miss Harding said: ‘Our email system was running very slowly and that is usually an indication that someone is trying to bombard your systems to get in.’ David Emm, of the cyber-security firm Kaspersky Lab, said: ‘TalkTalk should be ashamed. Ms Blears, a former member of the intelligence and security committee, suggested proof of adequate cyber security could be made a condition of government contracts. ‘We are aware of speculation regarding alleged perpetrators; this investigation remains at an early stage; a full assessment of the alleged data theft is ongoing,’ it said in a statement.

That made it easy for the still-unknown attackers – perhaps criminals, perhaps political extremists, perhaps a mixture of the two – to steal customer information from its computers. Far too many company directors have not the faintest idea how computers work, or the formidable arsenal of weapons and trickery which attackers can deploy. The hapless Miss Harding, bumbling from studio to studio, was unable to explain how her company had been attacked, how long the attack had gone on for, what had been stolen and whether the computers and networks were now secure. So attacking TalkTalk, a major provider of mobile phone and internet services, could be a stunt by those bent on destroying our way of life in the misguided pursuit of piety. Even ordinary internet users can be blackmailed because they have left a compromising trail online by browsing pornographic websites, or posting indecent pictures.

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