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TalkTalk has experienced a “significant and sustained cyberattack” on its main website, the UK-based telecommunications company has revealed.
It said that cybercriminals had launched an assault on its website on Wednesday (October 21st), which is likely to have affected many, if not all of its four million customers.
TalkTalk explained that while the full scope of the cyberattack is yet to be known, there is every chance that data has been stolen.
Information possibly accessed by the cybercriminals includes names, addresses, dates of birth, email addresses, telephone numbers and credit card data.
An investigation into the incident is now underway and is being led by the Metropolitan Police Cyber Crime Unit.“Cybercrime is the crime of our generation.”
Speaking to BBC News last night (October 22nd), Dido Harding, chief executive of TalkTalk, said that “cybercrime was the crime of our generation”.
“It’s too early to know exactly what data has been attacked and what has been stolen,” she continued.
“Potentially it could affect all of our customers, which is why we are contacting them all by email and we will also write to them as well.”
As Ms. Harding noted, TalkTalk has contacted all of its customers to inform them that they may be a victim of this cyberattack.
Beyond that initial correspondence, it will keep keep them informed of the latest developments in this case.
In addition to securing its website, the company has already contacted major banking providers in the UK, instructing them to monitor any suspicious activity on customer accounts.
It is also advising customers to remain vigilant over the coming months, asking them to “keep an eye” on their accounts.
If anything appears to them to be unusual, TalkTalk recommends that they contact Action Fraud, the UK’s national fraud and internet crime reporting centre.
This is not the first time that TalkTalk has experienced a data breach or associated cyberattack.
In August, it announced that its mobile website, along with other, similar websites hosted by Carphone Warehouse, “was subject to a sophisticated and coordinated cyberattack”.
“We believe that some of our mobile customers’ data may have been accessed by the criminals,” it said in an official statement at the time.
“This includes customers’ names, addresses, dates of birth, bank details and other personal and TalkTalk account information. For some of the affected customers, this may have also included their My Account username and passwords.”
Cybercrime is now acknowledged by most governments around the world as being one of the biggest threats to national security, alongside international terrorism.
The TalkTalk data breach is indicative of this new landscape, whereby any organization, big or small, financial, tech or otherwise – even charities – is at risk of being attacked.
However, as this is the third time that TalkTalk has been targeted this year – in February it revealed that “malicious scammers were preying on its customers” – it is evident that this company is a key focus of attention.
One suggestion is that because it is experiencing rapid growth and accruing large swathes of customer data, it presents itself as a lucrative opportunity to cybercriminals.
Author Karl Thomas, ESET