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ISP hack forces temporary closure at Fasthosts.

McAfee : 06 December, 2007  (Technical Article)
Hosting service hack exposes sensitive data and highlights the recent trend for hackers to target larger groups carrying extensive data resources.
Hundreds of websites have been shut down temporarily by one of the largest web hosting companies in Britain after the personal details of customers were stolen by computer hackers. The hackers managed to access the "master database" of Fasthosts for information, including addresses, bank details, e-mails and passwords. The action is expected to lose vital business for hundreds of small companies in the run-up to Christmas.

McAfee comment - "The theft of data from Fasthosts is a further example of cyber criminals continual attempts to target large organisations and businesses in order to access to vast quantities of sensitive data. Businesses are already reporting large financial losses and fear that their businesses will be forced to close as a direct result. This is not a small scale attack by any stretch of the imagination and there is potential for the thieves to have accessed everything on the database. The growing number of incidents of this type highlights the the extensive value such data can provide for cyber criminals with malicious intent. Companies of all sizes need to take note and learn from these highly publicised mistakes and continue to prioritise their security procedures in order to maintain maximum data safety." - Sal Viveros, security analyst from McAfee

The impact of this incident:.

* The potential availability of a large volume of data that can provide a revenue stream for malicious gain.
* Infringement to data protection laws.
* Damage to confidence in web hosting companies.
* Potential opportunity if the data falls into the wrong hands to be used for financial gain.
* Damages to businesses in terms of customer trust, future use and loss of income, both immediate and long-term.

McAfee offers the following advice to business and consumers worried about the fallout of this attack:.

* Ensure the computer(s) has an up-to-date anti-virus and anti spyware software package in place.
* Install and turn on a personal firewall, which will stop a targeted attacker.
* Regularly install update patches in order to fix trapdoors that someone can use to get into your system.
* Do not open email attachments from unrecognisable sources.
* Choose an Internet security provider that considers security. A number of ISPs now offer email filtering and content filtering protection.
* Change passwords regularly and avoid using numbers of names that are easily recognisable.
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