Hackers Demand Ransom From TalkTalk, British Telecom Firm

23 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Hackers Demand Ransom From TalkTalk, British Telecom Firm.

TalkTalk, one of the U.K.s largest Internet services providers (ISPs) with more than four million customer accounts, has suffered its third data-breach in 2015, and the latest one is significant. TalkTalk’s chief executive says the company is “assuming the worst” after it was subject to a cyber attack potentially affecting millions of people.

The chief executive of TalkTalk, a British telecommunications provider, said on Friday that she had received a ransom demand from hackers who had claimed responsibility for stealing data on some of the company’s four million customers. Some customers have described having hundreds of pounds wiped out from their accounts since the hack began on Wednesday morning, and CEO Dido Harding has said it is believed criminals got away with “a very considerable amount of data”.

TalkTalk, which offers cable and fixed-line services in Britain, said local authorities had opened a criminal investigation into the widespread data breach. While the full extent of the latest hack hasn’t yet been revealed, the company has said that it’s likely that names, addresses, dates-of-birth, telephone numbers, email addresses, TalkTalk account numbers, and bank details have been compromised. Speaking to The Independent, TalkTalk user Hilly Foster said she had checked her Halifax bank account after the news broke on Thursday night to find just over £600 had disappeared. Ms Foster, 43, said her bank had referred the case to its fraud department and was going to refund her money, but that the worry and inconvenience left her furious with TalkTalk itself. “I don’t understand why TalkTalk didn’t contact customers when they found out about the hack – especially given it’s the third time it’s happened,” she said. “I’m really angry that I’ve had to spend hours on the getting this whole mess sorted out – and I’m also going to have to spend ages updating my card details on every site I use.” She praised her bank, Santander, for blocking the hack, writing: “Some a****** hacker tried to purchase something using my bank details. TalkTalk’s shares fell as much as 11 percent in morning trading in London, but recovered by the afternoon and were down 2.3 percent in midafternoon trading.

Despite the claims of responsibility, it remained unclear whether the group that had contacted TalkTalk was behind the breach or whether the ransom demands were credible. Don’t know what to do.” “I know it seems strange that I can’t tell you exactly [how many were affected], but the criminals have hacked into our systems and downloaded a very significant amount of data. “We’ve spent the last 36 hours trawling through that to see what has and has not been accessed. Yet TalkTalk’s data breach — the third successful attack on the company in the past 12 months — is the latest in a number of online hackings that have affected a wide range of companies, including Target, Home Depot and JPMorgan Chase. I don’t want to give a false impression of confidence where I don’t have it.” That the CEO of a major technology company can simply “not know” whether the data was encrypted is a startling confession, especially given how easy it would have been for her to find out whether it was or wasn’t.

I am confident that a material number of our customers have been affected, which is why I’m taking the precaution of warning all our customers.” Earlier, she told the Press Association: “We have taken the precaution to assume the worst case, which is that all of our customers’ personal financial information has been accessed.” “We think that is the most prudent and sensible way to be, to tell all of our customers that now, so that they can protect themselves rather than wait to do the analysis and give a more precise number and cause more concern to people over the long term.2 Responding to criticism over the speed of its response directly to customers, Ms Harding said the company could contact all of its customers quickest through the media. “All four million should have received emails with details by the end of the day, and it simply takes that long to send so many emails.” He said his office was informed at 4.30pm on Thursday, adding: “I wish we had heard a little bit earlier and we could have been more ‘out there’ giving advice to consumers about what they need to protect their personal information.” Mr Graham said the ICO was still investigating TalkTalk over two previous data breaches, and warned that if the company had failed to secure data properly it could lead to serious fines. “People have got to take this seriously,” he said. Such tactics, commonly known as ransomware, have often involved hackers encrypting people’s computer data and holding it hostage until a fee is paid. Despite TalkTalk’s rapid response to the data breach, some users and security experts criticized the company for going public about the hacking before knowing all the details. We’re working with the police and cyber security experts to understand what happened and protect as best we can against similar attacks in future.” Back in February, TalkTalk sent an email to every customer warning them that scammers were using stolen data to “trick” people into handing over their bank details, though th actual number of customers’ data that was pilfered was just a few thousand. The telecom provider’s efforts, however, come before planned changes in Europe that would force any company that has been affected by a data breach to inform privacy regulators within three days of the hacking or potentially face fines.

Of course, the issue of data-breaches has rarely been out the headlines in recent times — the Ashley Madison case is perhaps the most recent example, with tens of millions of users affected. However, the fact that a company can be infiltrated by cyber criminals so often, and the CEO still not know what data (if any) was encrypted, should be worrying for any TalkTalk customer. But until then TalkTalk recommends using Call Credit, Experian and Equifax, the three main credit agencies — some of which will give you free trials.

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