Tesco services knocked offline after suspected cyber attack

Customers were left unable to make or cancel orders, or amend their scheduled deliveries

TESCO logo on boxes in shopping cart near the laptop.

Tesco has said that it has managed to restore its website and app following an attempted hack over the weekend.

Issues began on Saturday morning when customers were left unable to use the search function on Tesco’s website, make or cancel orders, or amend their scheduled deliveries.

The disruption continued until Sunday night, with the British grocery retailer announcing in the early hours of Monday morning that its “groceries website and app [were] back up and running”. Due to heightened demand, it was forced to create a temporary virtual waiting room in order to manage a backlog of customers to its services.

“This is a planned measure, which we routinely use at peak times to ensure customers have a smooth experience on the site,” a Tesco spokesperson told IT Pro.

The incident had been described as “an attempt to interfere with [Tesco’s] systems”, yet the company added that “there is no reason to believe that this issue impacted customer data”.

“We continue to take ongoing action to make sure all data stays safe,” the spokesperson added.

Commenting on the news, Orange Cyberdefense UK product manager Dominic Trott said that, although the cause of the disruption was not revealed, the attack was likely a result of the changing work environment:

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“Over the past 18 months we have seen an increase in threats against large organisations as a result of changes to the network permitter due to the adoption of flexible and remote working. Employees now hold far greater responsibility with regards to company security. Their endpoint devices – such as company laptops or phones, or personal devices they connect to the corporate network – are all potential gateways for cybercriminals,” he told IT Pro.

Although Tesco’s app and website were brought back online, some customers reported having had their saved items, known as “favourites”, wiped from their accounts.

The disruption didn’t affect shopping in Tesco’s physical stores, including its new till-less supermarket in Holborn, London. Opened last week, Tesco GetGo operates in a similar fashion to the Amazon Fresh stores which arrived in London earlier this year. A spokesperson for Tesco told IT Pro that “the store is open as normal”.

In 2009, a routine IT upgrade caused tills at 100 Tesco stores to crash, leading to temporary store closures.

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