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Spain's Telefónica investigates possible theft of customer and employee data
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Spain's Telefónica investigates possible theft of customer and employee data

The issue came to light after the alleged cyber criminals offered a database containing 2.6 million records for sale

Melchor Sáiz-Pardo

Madrid

Wednesday, 29 May 2024, 11:51

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Telecoms giant Telefónica is investigating the potential theft and leakage of data of some 120,000 users and employees of the Spanish company.

The alleged data breach has become known through several hacker forums, where the alleged thieves offered a company database with more than 2.6 million records for sale. The data the hackers put up for sale includes full names, telephone numbers, physical and the email addresses of those affected, cybersecurity company HackManac revealed on its social media.

According to industry sources, the leaked information does not include sensitive or confidential data, such as passwords, codes, bank account numbers or credit card numbers. However, the type of data allegedly stolen is of great use to criminals, because they are often used to carry out scams against customers, impersonating the telecommunications operator to try to obtain passwords and codes.

Telefónica, which confirmed it is investigating the alleged hacking, is also trying to determine where the security breach may have occurred and whether the failure may have come, as is often the case in such cases, from a deficiency of an external provider.

These 120,000 potential users affected by the data theft would be only a small fraction of the company's customers. Telefónica closed 2023 with a total of 37.4 million customers. Of these, 20.1 million are Telefónica mobile users and 7.9 million are fixed-line customers.

Background

In 2023 Telefónica, as it stated in its annual report, did not suffer "any relevant security incidents" or events "with sufficient impact to be reported to the financial market supervisory authorities". The previous year, in 2022, the telco, which has 17 cyber incident response centres, said hackers did get hold of the router configuration data of an unspecified number of Movistar and O2 customers.

The most serious attack suffered by Telefónica was in 2017 when a hack prevented access to parts of the systems and affected the company's operations in 100 countries.

The alleged theft of data from the Spanish telecommunications company came to light two weeks after Banco Santander reported to the National Securities Market Commission (CNMV) it had suffered "unauthorised access to a database" containing information on its customers in Spain, Chile and Uruguay. The file that was breached also contained data on "all employees and some former employees of the group", with the exception of Germany.

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