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Arrests made after data breach at Three mobile

Friday, November 18th 2016 by Phil Wilkinson-Jones

Three people have been arrested following a data breach at the mobile network operator Three.

Hackers accessed a database of customers entitled to upgrade their phone and used this information to obtain eight devices before they were stopped.

Three said about 400 high-value handsets have also been stolen in burglaries of the company’s retail stores over the past four weeks.

On Wednesday, the National Crime Agency arrested a 48-year-old man from Orpington, Kent, and a 39-year-old man from Ashton-under-Lyne, Manchester on suspicion of computer misuse offences.

A 35-year-old man from Moston, Manchester, was arrested on suspicion of attempting to pervert the course of justice.

All three have since been released on bail pending further enquiries and investigations are ongoing.

Three said it investigating how many customers are affected and will contact them as soon as possible.

It said customers’ financial details are not at risk.

“We’re aware of an attempted fraud issue regarding upgrade devices and are working with police and relevant authorities on the matter,” the company said in a statement.

“The objective was to steal high-end smartphones from Three but we’ve already put measures in place to stop the fraudulent activity.

'Higher levels of burglaries'

“Over the last four weeks Three has seen an increasing level of attempted handset fraud. This has been visible through higher levels of burglaries of retail stores and attempts to unlawfully intercept upgrade devices.

“The investigation is ongoing and we have taken a number of steps to further strengthen our controls.

“In order to commit this type of upgrade handset fraud, the perpetrators used authorised logins to Three’s upgrade system. This upgrade system does not include any customer payment, card information or bank account information.”

The breach comes a year after an attack on TalkTalk saw the personal details of thousands of customers stolen by hackers.

TalkTalk lost 100,000 customers in the three months after the attack, costing it a total of £60m.

Presenting its half-year financials earlier this week, TalkTalk CEO Dido Harding said it the company had bounced back well.

“One year on from the cyber attack, we have maintained a relentless focus on looking after our existing customers and keeping up the pace across a wide range of operational improvements to make TalkTalk simpler and better for customers,” she said.

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