Cyber-attack forces retailer to close stores

One of the UK’s leading retailers of arts, crafts, toys, books and stationery was forced to close a number of its stores yesterday after falling victim to a cyber-attack.

The Works said it had been “subject to a cyber security incident involving unauthorised access to its computer systems”.

It has a network of approximately 530 stores in the UK & Ireland, with stores on high-streets, retail parks, and shopping centres shopping centres. The firm has also invested heavily in its online presence which its describes as “significant and growing”.

“There has been some limited disruption to trading and business operations, including the closure of some stores due to till issues,” The Works said in a statement to announce the attack.

“Replenishment deliveries to the group’s stores were suspended temporarily and the normal delivery window for the fulfilment of online orders was extended, but store deliveries are expected to resume imminently and the normal online service levels are progressively being reintroduced.

“The Company does not currently anticipate that this incident will have a material adverse impact on its forecasts or financial position.”

Since being alerted to the incident by the operation of its security firewall, the company said it had taken “several immediate actions to protect the business and its customers”.

“As a precautionary measure, the company disabled all internal and external access to its systems, including email, whilst it worked with its advisors to evaluate and rectify the situation,” it explained. “External forensic cyber security experts have been appointed whose investigations and recovery work are ongoing.

“To protect customers and the business, the company has made some immediate protective changes to further strengthen its security position.”

The company said whilst payment data has not been compromised, it had not yet been possible to establish the full extent to which any other data may have been affected. Therefore, as a precautionary measure, it had informed the Information Commissioner’s Office.

“Customers can continue to shop safely at The Works, both in store and online,” it said. “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.”

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