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Police called to major hack

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Updated Fasthosts, "the UK's number 1 web host", has fired off emergency emails telling customers to change all their passwords after police were called in to investigate a major data breach.

The Gloucester-based firm contacted The Reg this morning with a statement. It said: "As the breach could relate to Fasthosts customer data... Fasthosts has subsequently reviewed and updated its security and worked with external security experts to ensure that all data held by Fasthosts is secure.

"As a precautionary measure, Fasthosts has asked its customers to update their passwords. This includes their control panel, email, FTP, and database passwords, all of which can be changed via the customer control panel. Fasthosts has now implemented customer password encryption to further protect customer data."

We've asked Fasthosts why the passwords were not encrypted in the first place. It said: "Historically, Internet companies have rarely encrypted passwords to aid customer service."

Fasthosts said that the attack affected one server at its headquarters, and added that a system-wide audit had identified and closed the hole where the intruder gained access.

It apologised for any "concern or inconvenience" caused by the intrusion. The statement said: "Fasthosts considers that its practices and procedures are up to date, and represent good practice in continually protecting the security of its customer data, and the company remains fully confident in its ability to do so."

The security flap comes directly after Fasthosts angered its email customers by permanently deleting mail and not immediately telling them. ®

Update

We asked Fasthosts for more detail about the chain of events. It says it can't reveal more details of the timings because of the ongoing police inquiry, but sent us a further statement:

Detection systems revealed that an unauthorized third party gained access to some of our internal systems via network connections. This security breach was only possible because of a security vulnerability which was forced illegally.

As we are currently working with the police and other relevant industry bodies to apprehend the intruder, we regret that we are unable to comment on any details that might prejudice the ongoing investigation.

Fasthosts has been working with the police and other relevant authorities since we became aware of the intrusion.

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