Security Experts:

650,000 Affected by JD Wetherspoon Data Breach

JD Wetherspoon, a major pub chain operating in the UK and Ireland, informed customers last week that their personal information may have been stolen after hackers breached its website in mid-June 2015.

According to an email sent out customers, the company only learned of the breach on December 1. An investigation revealed that attackers gained access to a customer database linked to the firm’s old website, which had been hosted by a third party. At some point after the breach, the website was replaced and taken over by a new service provider that is not connected to the incident.

The compromised database stored the names, dates of birth, email addresses and phone numbers of 656,723 people who signed up for JD Wetherspoon newsletters, registered to use Wi-Fi in pubs and opted to receive company information, purchased vouchers online between January 2009 and August 2014, or used the contact form on the company’s website.

For 100 customers who acquired vouchers, the last four digits of their payment card numbers had also been accessed. JD Wetherspoon says other sensitive information, such as complete card information or passwords, was not stored on its website.

While the compromised information cannot be used for fraudulent bank transactions or identity theft, it could be valuable for scammers and fraudsters as they can use it to trick victims into handing over sensitive data.

JD Wetherspoon says there is no evidence of fraudulent activity involving the exposed data, but customers have been advised to beware of emails asking for personal and financial information, or ones that instruct recipients to click on links or install software.

The investigation into this incident is ongoing, and the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) in the UK has been notified. JD Wetherspoon does not believe it has breached the Data Protection Act since it claims to have taken appropriate measures to protect user data.

This is the second major incident reported in the UK in recent months. In October, telecoms company TalkTalk informed customers that hackers accessed their personal and financial details. An investigation revealed that the breach affected 156,959 people, representing roughly 4 percent of the total number of customers.

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Eduard Kovacs (@EduardKovacs) is a contributing editor at SecurityWeek. He worked as a high school IT teacher for two years before starting a career in journalism as Softpedia’s security news reporter. Eduard holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial informatics and a master’s degree in computer techniques applied in electrical engineering.