WH Smith hit by cyber attack as hackers access employee information

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High street retailer WH Smith said it has been the target of a cyber attack that has seen hackers access company data.

The retailer said current and former employee information was accessed by hackers.

It said the hack has not impacted its trading activities and stressed its website, customer accounts and customer databases are on unaffected separate systems.

High street retailer WH Smith said it has been targeted by a cyber attack which saw hackers access company data including current and former employee information (PA)

WH Smith said: “Upon becoming aware of the incident, we immediately launched an investigation, engaged specialist support services and implemented our incident response plans, which included notifying the relevant authorities.”

It added: “WH Smith takes the issue of cyber security extremely seriously and investigations into the incident are ongoing.

“We are notifying all affected colleagues and have put measures in place to support them.”

It comes amid a wave of cyber attacks in recent months, with Royal Mail’s international postal service suffering lengthy disruption after hackers targeted the group.

Retailer JD Sports also warned in January that around 10 million people might have had their addresses, phone numbers and email addresses stolen – among other things – in a hack.

WH Smith last month said its travel business reached its “strongest ever position” after years of depressed sales during the Covid pandemic.

Revenue was 41% higher over the 20 weeks to January 14 compared to the same period a year earlier, and compared to Christmas 2019, sales were up by a fifth, the business said.

However, the high street store has struggled to match such growth, with sales down 2% compared to the year before, which was impacted by Covid.

Compared to the Covid-free high street in 2019 sales were down by 14% in high street shops, bosses said.

“The group has made a strong start to the financial year, with our global travel retail business growing strongly across all regions,” said chief executive Carl Cowling.

“Our strategy to transform our customer offer continues at pace through broadening our categories and expanding our ranges, to include health and beauty and tech accessories, and is underpinned by a forensic approach to retail.”

The business opened more than 40 new shops around the world and won the right to run sites at Reagan National airport in Washington and Palm Springs airport as well as three new sites in Rome Fiumicino airport.

UK sales rose 70% year-on-year in the UK, 31% in North America and 198% in the rest of the world.

The only part of the UK travel business that struggled during the period was the company’s shops in train stations.

Rail revenue was down 13% compared to 2019 and its 24% rise compared to last year was much slimmer than the increases seen in WHSmith shops in hospitals and airports.

WHSmith was voted the UK’s worst high street shop in 2019.

The store has consistently been voted the worst chain on UK high streets, but it hit back at the poll, pointing out that it had maintained its presence while others were closing down stores.

Source: independent.co.uk