Cyber security: 4 of the UK’s biggest data breaches

Rebekah Valero-Lee Cyber Security


Recent years have seen data breaches become worryingly common, with businesses of all shapes and sizes falling victim to cyber-attacks. It’s no coincidence that we’ve seen a steady increase in demand for cyber security professionals, as businesses look for new ways to protect themselves and their data.

As hackers constantly find new and more inventive ways to break through online defences, businesses need to ensure they have the right staff and skills in-house to stay one step ahead.

The following are four examples of companies that weren’t so lucky, and fell victim to major data breaches.

1)     TalkTalk

Easily the biggest data breach story of last year, the TalkTalk hack was said to have affected around 157,000 customers and cost the business an estimated £40m. Not only this, but reports stated the company lost over 100,000 customers as a result of the attack and aftermath.

The hackers managed to get their hands on around 16,000 customers’ bank account numbers and sort codes, and access a further 28,000 ‘obscured’ credit card and debit card numbers. Following the attack, five people were arrested, and TalkTalk have been working hard to regain the trust of their customer base.

2)     MoonPig

MoonPig fell out of favour with the public in January 2015, after it had to shut down its mobile apps due to a security flaw that had exposed 3 million customers’ personal details. To make matters worse, it was also revealed that the vulnerability had been spotted almost a year and a half prior to this, leaving customers at risk for 18 months.

In July, the company suffered another security breach, which led to user details, including email addresses, account balances and passwords being published online.

3)     British Gas

In October last year, British Gas had to contact around 2,200 customers to warn them that their email addresses and account passwords had been posted online. In an official announcement, British Gas stated that they were confident that its own systems hadn’t been breached, and that the information that was leaked didn’t come from them.

4)     JD Wetherspoon

Hackers managed to access the personal details of around 657,000 customers from pub chain JD Wetherspoon, including names, dates of birth, email addresses and mobile phone numbers. Credit and debit card details for around 100 customers were also stolen, but Wetherspoon representatives were quick to confirm that these details were ‘extremely limited’ and could not be used.

If you’re interested in a career in cyber security, take a look at our current available roles in IT.