British high street chain WH Smith has recently revealed that it was hit by a cyber-attack that resulted in the theft of company data. The stationery and book chain stated that the threat actors accessed current and former employee data, including names, addresses, dates of birth, and national insurance numbers. The incident has prompted cybersecurity experts to urge retailers and e-commerce organizations to continuously protect sensitive data from cyber-attacks.
The Cyber-Attack on WH Smith
According to a media statement released by the company, WH Smith discovered the cyber-attack and immediately launched an investigation. The company engaged specialist support services and implemented its incident response plans, which included notifying relevant authorities. While the company is still investigating the incident, it believes that no banking details were stolen during the attack.
The CEO of security company Risk Crew, Richard Hollis, has warned that the breach is severe, even if no financial information was compromised. The stolen data, including PII, can be used by cybercriminals to commit identity fraud and launch realistic phishing attacks. Moreover, this information is now in the hands of criminals forever, and individuals affected cannot easily change their names or addresses to protect themselves from future attacks.
The Importance of Continuous Protection of Sensitive Data
Erfan Shadabi, a cybersecurity expert at comforte AG, has echoed the concerns raised by Hollis. He stated that retailers and e-commerce organizations should continuously operate under the assumption that their environment is currently under attack and protect sensitive data accordingly. Shadabi recommends applying data-centric protection to any sensitive data within their ecosystem, including PII, financial, and transactional data, as soon as it enters the environment. He also suggests tokenizing any PII or transactional data to strongly protect that information while preserving its original format.
The Trend of Cyber-Attacks on UK-Based Entities
The attack on WH Smith is the latest in a trend of cyber-attacks on UK-based entities. A report recently published by Digital Trust Insights suggests that a quarter of UK business leaders think cyber-threats will significantly increase this year. The report highlights the importance of having robust cybersecurity measures in place to protect against cyber-attacks.
The cyber-attack on WH Smith has highlighted the importance of protecting sensitive data against cyber-attacks continuously. Retailers and e-commerce organizations must assume that their environment is under attack and protect sensitive data accordingly. Tokenizing PII and transactional data can help strongly protect that information while preserving its original format. With cyber-threats expected to increase, having robust cybersecurity measures in place has never been more critical.
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- Globally, 30,000 websites are hacked daily.
- 64% of companies worldwide have experienced at least one form of a cyber attack.
- There were 20M breached records in March 2021.
- In 2020, ransomware cases grew by 150%.
- Email is responsible for around 94% of all malware.
- Every 39 seconds, there is a new attack somewhere on the web.
- An average of around 24,000 malicious mobile apps are blocked daily on the internet.