Currys PC World parent firm hit with £500k fine over historic data breach

Hackers said to have stolen data belonging to 14 million customers over a nine-month period

The parent company of Currys PC World has been fined £500,000 after its point of sale system was breached by hackers, thought to have affected around 14 million customers.

Between July 2017 and April 2018, hackers were able to install malware onto 5,390 computer systems and tills located at Currys PC World and Dixon Travel outlets, both owned by DSG Retail Limited, according to an investigation by the Information Commissioner's Office.

It's believed 5.6 million payment card records used in transactions were accessed as a result, as well as the personal information of 14 million people, including full names, postcodes, email addresses and information related to failed credit checks.

Given that the incident occured prior to the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation in May 2018, the case fell under the Data Protection Act 1998, which stipulated a maximum fine of £500,000. Under new laws, the retailer would have been subject to potential fines of up to 4% of annual turnover, or £17 million.

The ICO said that DSG Retail, which also owns the Carphone Warehouse brand, was in breach of the 1998 act as it had failed to maintain adequate security measures to protect its data. This included poor patch management, a lack of a local firewall, lack of network segregation and a lack of routine penetration testing.

Carphone Warehouse itself was also fined in January 2018 for similar vulnerabilities, to the tune of £400,000.

"Our investigation found systemic failures in the way DSG Retail Limited safeguarded personal data," said Steve Eckersley, director of investigations for the ICO. "It is very concerning that these failures related to basic, commonplace security measures, showing a complete disregard for the customers whose personal information was stolen.

"The contraventions in this case were so serious that we imposed the maximum penalty under the previous legislation, but the fine would inevitably have been much higher under the GDPR."

Related Resource

Testing for compliance just became easier

How you can use technology to ensure compliance in your organisation

Download now

The authority added that the theft of such personal data would likely significantly affect individuals' privacy, and therefore met the criteria for the toughest possible sanction under law. It added that customers would likely be vulnerable to financial theft and fraud as a result.

As of March 2019, 3,300 customers had issued complaints to DSG Retail in relation to the breach.

Featured Resources

Choosing a collaboration platform

Eight questions every IT leader should ask

Download now

Performance benchmark: PostgreSQL/ MongoDB

Helping developers choose a database

Download now

Customer service vs. customer experience

Three-step guide to modern customer experience

Download now

Taking a proactive approach to cyber security

A complete guide to penetration testing

Download now

Recommended

1Password targets enterprise customers with Secrets Automation
IT infrastructure

1Password targets enterprise customers with Secrets Automation

14 Apr 2021
The definitive guide to IT security
Whitepaper

The definitive guide to IT security

9 Apr 2021
Ubiquiti insider says the company downplayed the severity of a major breach
data breaches

Ubiquiti insider says the company downplayed the severity of a major breach

31 Mar 2021
Forex broker FBS leaves millions of customer records exposed
data breaches

Forex broker FBS leaves millions of customer records exposed

25 Mar 2021

Most Popular

Microsoft is submerging servers in boiling liquid to prevent Teams outages
data centres

Microsoft is submerging servers in boiling liquid to prevent Teams outages

7 Apr 2021
How to find RAM speed, size and type
Laptops

How to find RAM speed, size and type

8 Apr 2021
UK exploring plans to launch its own digital currency
digital currency

UK exploring plans to launch its own digital currency

19 Apr 2021