The Works is forced to close stores across the UK after hackers target retailer’s tills and deliveries

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High street retailer The Works says it has been targeted in a cyber attack – forcing it to shut some of its stores.

Hackers are said to have hit the British discount stationary and books retailer with ransomware – a type of computer virus that allows attackers to take control of a system and then demand money for its return.

The retailer said five of its 526 shops have been closed since last week as a result of the hack, which caused issues with the company’s tills and disrupted its deliveries to its stores.

However bosses at The Works say its tech team quickly managed to disable the company’s computers after being alerted to the breach by their firewall system.

It is understood the company is yet to hear from the hackers and it is yet to ascertain where in the world the attack came from.

However the company insists that no customer payment data has been accessed, as it is stored on a seperate third-party system.

The stationery and books retailer said the cyber attack resulted in new stock deliveries to its shops being temporarily suspended and longer delivery times for online orders.

The stationery and books retailer said the hack also resulted in new stock deliveries to its shops being temporarily suspended and longer delivery times for online orders.

It said store deliveries ‘are expected to resume imminently’ and its normal online service levels are steadily being reintroduced.

Bosses added that the firm does not currently expect the incident to have a ‘material adverse impact’ on its financial position or forecasts. However the company’s shares fell 10 per cent at the market open, according to Sky News.

In a statement, The Works, which is majority owned by Huddersfield Town FC chairman and Card Factory founder, Dean Hoyle, said there had been ‘been some limited disruption to trading and business operations’.

A spokesperson said: ‘This includes the closure of some stores due to till issues.

‘Customers can continue to shop safely at The Works, both in store and online.

‘All debit and credit card payment data are processed securely outside the group’s systems, via accredited third-party networks, and therefore there is no risk that this payment data has been accessed improperly.’

The retailer said it has taken a number of actions after it was alerted to the breach by its security firewall.

The Works has disabled all internal and external access to its systems, including email, while it works with its advisers to evaluate and rectify the situation.

External cyber security experts have also been appointed and are currently completing investigations and recovery work.

The company added that, while payment data has not been compromised, it has not yet established ‘the full extent to which any other data may have been affected’.

It said it has therefore also informed the Information Commissioner’s Office. An ICO spokesperson told MailOnline: ‘The Works has reported an incident to us and we are assessing the information provided.’

Ransomware hacks are one of the most common types of cyber attacks, alongside DDoS – Distributed Denial of Service.

One of the most well known ransomware attacks took place in 2017 with the WannaCry hack on the NHS.

More than a third of hospital trusts – 81 in total – had their computer systems crippled by the WannaCry hackers in 2017.

Nearly 20,000 hospital appointments were cancelled because the NHS failed to provide basic security against cyber attackers. The hack is thought to have cost the NHS £92million.

When the attack came on May 12 it ripped through the out-of-date defences used by the NHS.

The virus spread via email, locking staff out of their computers and demanding £230 to release the files on each employee account.

Doctors and nurses had to rely on pen and paper and crucial equipment such as MRI machines was also disabled by the attack.

Nearly 20,000 medical appointments were cancelled, including 139 potential cancer referrals.

Five hospitals had to divert ambulances away at the peak of the crisis. Hospitals were found to have been running out-of-date computer systems, such as Windows XP and Windows 7 – which had not been updated to secure them against such attacks. Computers at almost 600 GP surgeries were also victims.

Computer systems in 150 countries were caught up in the attack, which saw screens freeze with a warning they would not be unlocked unless a ransom was paid.

The ransomware hack on The Works comes just months after the country’s biggest double glazing installer was hit by a cyber attack.

Safestyle UK – known for its ‘You buy one, you get one free’ advertising campaign – is understood to have been targeted by hackers in January.

Hackers, suspected of being from Russia, stole as many as 400,000 customer details, sources said, and threatened to sell the data on the dark web unless the firm handed over £4million in Bitcoin, the cryptocurrency.

The Bradford-based company took part of its website and IT system offline following the incident.

Business Matters Magazine

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