British broadband provider TalkTalk has been hacked for the third time, the company announced late Thursday, and customers' data — including credit card details — may have been stolen.

Hugo Plowman, a fraud lawyer at Mishcon de Reya, said: "Large scale cyber-attacks such as this are becoming more and more common and at the same time increasingly sophisticated and complicated. In this instance, it is noteworthy how quickly TalkTalk has responded, although of course this is not the first time its systems have been hacked and is a sign, perhaps, that its alarm systems and response plans have been refined through experience.

 

"It appears that this was a 'denial of service attack', commonly used by cyber terrorists to disrupt the running of a business, but it is extremely likely that obtaining customer data was an objective of this attack. Such data is now amongst companies most valuable assets and any business that holds it needs to be aware of their responsibility to ensure it is protected.

 

"The criminal investigation into this latest attack will almost certainly now be focusing on trying to establish who is behind it; which whilst very difficult, is not impossible. If they do this quickly enough, they may be able to recover some of the stolen data, to the extent that it has not already been disseminated.

 

"Customers of TalkTalk should be hyper vigilant, carefully monitor bank accounts and change passwords. It may also be worth checking your insurance policies to see if any include cover against identity fraud, should the worst happen."