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British broadband provider TalkTalk reports cyberattack, ransom demand

Following a sustained cyberattack, telephone and Internet service provider TalkTalk has received a ransom demand from unidentified hackers, the company said. The attack may have compromised customers' banking details.

British broadband company TalkTalk's chief executive Dido Harding confirmed on Friday that she had "received a contact from someone purporting … to be the hacker, looking for money."

"We have been contacted by - I don't know whether it is an individual or a group - purporting to be the hacker," Harding told the BBC.

The company had earlier said that a "significant and sustained" cyberattack on its website might have compromised its 4 million customers' credit card and banking details. It acknowledged that it realized only on Wednesday that its website was under attack from unidentified hackers.

Harding said it was difficult to assess how much data had been stolen in the attack, but the company was acting on a worst-case scenario in which "all our customers' personal financial information has been accessed."

Damaging for the company

The cyberattack on TalkTalk is possibly one of the largest and most damaging to hit a British company, following

a series of high-profile cases

in North America recently.

It is the third time this year that TalkTalk's data has been breached, which has put the company's reputation at risk.

"The brand will be damaged and their customers will say it is the final straw," Graham Cluley, a cyber expert, told Reuters news agency.

Some TalkTalk customers expressed their anger against the company on Twitter.

London's Metropolitan Police's Cyber Crime Unit said it was investigating "an allegation of data theft from a telecommunications website," which was reported on Wednesday.

shs/msh (AP, Reuters)

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