TalkTalk hack. Police arrest fourth person, aged 16 years old

Graham Cluley
Graham Cluley
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Police This evening police have arrested a fourth person in connection with the high profile hack of UK telecoms company TalkTalk.

In a statement, the Metropolitan Police said that detectives from its Cyber Crime Unit (MPCCU) – working alongside officers from the National Crime Agency (NCA) – executed a search warrant at an address in Norwich. A 16-year-old boy was arrested at the address on suspicion of committing offences under the Computer Misuse Act, and has been taken into custody.

This arrest follows the previous arrests of a 15-year-old boy in County Antrim, Northern Ireland, a 16-year-old boy in Feltham, and a 20-year-old man in Staffordshire.

TalkTalk is believed to have suffered from a website outage involving a denial-of-service attack which took its website offline on 21 October, but the subsequent evening the firm revealed that hackers had managed to steal the personal information of customers – seemingly through an elementary SQL injection attack.

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TalkTalk CEO Dido Harding says that she received a ransom demand in the wake of the attack – although it is not yet clear if that came from whoever hacked the company.

SQL injection attacks, of course, are one of the most common methods through which hackers can steal data from organisations, but fortunately they’re also well understood and relatively easy to prevent if you leave the job in the hands of a competent web development team.

XKCD comic on SQL injection
Source: xkcd

It’s hard to defend TalkTalk against the claims that it demonstrated sloppy security and a management team who dropped the ball, as it was the third time the firms’ customers have had their personal information exposed through a data breach in the last year.

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Graham Cluley is a veteran of the cybersecurity industry, having worked for a number of security companies since the early 1990s when he wrote the first ever version of Dr Solomon's Anti-Virus Toolkit for Windows. Now an independent analyst, he regularly makes media appearances and is an international public speaker on the topic of cybersecurity, hackers, and online privacy. Follow him on Twitter, Mastodon, Threads, Bluesky, or drop him an email.

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