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High-Street Retailer WH Smith Breached; Hackers Access Company, Employee Data


March 03, 2023

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High-Street Retailer WH Smith Breached; Hackers Access Company, Employee Data

British high-street retailer WH Smith has fallen victim to a cyber-intrusion that resulted in stolen employee data.

The company operates a chain of high street, railway station, airport, hospital and motorway service station shops selling books, stationery, magazines, newspapers, entertainment products and confectionery.

The 230-year-old firm is notably responsible for the creation of the ISBN book identifier.

In a notice to the London Stock Exchange, WH Smith reveals it was the target of “a cyber-security incident which has resulted in illegal access to some company data, including current and former employee data.”

WH Smith employs around 12,500 staff as of 2022, according to Wikipedia.

“Upon becoming aware of the incident, we immediately launched an investigation, engaged specialist support services and implemented our incident response plans, which included notifying the relevant authorities,” the retailer says.

Trading activities, the WH Smith website, customer accounts and underlying customer databases were untouched by the hack, as they are hosted on separate systems that the attackers failed to compromise, the notice says.

“WH Smith takes the issue of cyber security extremely seriously and investigations into the incident are ongoing,” the company adds. “We are notifying all affected colleagues and have put measures in place to support them.”

The notice doesn’t say whether the breach was at the hand of ransomware operators – as is typically the case with such a boilerplate-sounding notice of security incident.

It remains to be seen if the attackers have higher plans with the stolen data or if this was just an attempt to dent the retailer’s reputation or cause disruption.




Filip has 15 years of experience in technology journalism. In recent years, he has turned his focus to cybersecurity in his role as Information Security Analyst at Bitdefender.

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