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February 21, 2023

Virgin Media service in Ireland hit by ‘major hack’

The network says it has contained the incident, but that its service may still be impacted by the breach.

By Claudia Glover

Virgin Media television has suffered what it has deemed an “unauthorised attempt” to access its systems, taking down several of its TV channels in Ireland. The effects of the cyberattack appear to be ongoing, and it is unclear how much other parts of its service have been affected.

Virgin Media Television suffers major hack
Virgin Media Television suffers major hack in Ireland. (Photo by Jevanto Productions/Shutterstock)

Ireland’s minister of state Ossian Smyth described the event as a “major hack”, explaining that the cyberattack is now being investigated by the country’s National Cyber Security Centre.

The company has 3.4million customers, including more than a million in Ireland.

Virgin Media television suffers major hack

The effects of the attack are ongoing as numerous services are rendered inoperable. These include recorded programming on Virgin Media Three, Four, More and VMTV. There has been no mention of when the services will be restored.

A statement released yesterday by Virgin Media said: “Our ongoing security monitoring system has identified an unauthorised attempt to access our systems in recent days. Due to the precautions we have implemented there will be temporary effects to the broadcasting of some of our recorded programming on Virgin Media Three, Four, More and VMTV Player.”

Virgin Media later confirmed that the breach had been, “fully contained, isolated and terminated”, but failed to elaborate on the extent of the damage, or any further detail of how the attack occurred.

A company spokesperson told Tech Monitor the incident had not affected services to UK consumers.

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Virgin Media has been hacked before

This is not the first hack that Virgin Media has suffered. In 2020 the company disclosed a major cyberattack that exposed the data of roughly 900,000 UK-based customers. 

The attacker accessed the system through a marketing database that was left unsecured and public-facing, without password protection.

At the time, the company said: “The precise situation is that information stored on one of our databases has been accessed without permission. The incident did not occur due to a hack, but as a result of the database being incorrectly configured.”

The frequency of cyberattacks in Ireland has increased by 26% year-on-year according to a recent report by security company Hiscox, with 49% of businesses saying they suffered a cyberattack in the past 12 months, compared to 39% the year before.

The cost of a data breach in Ireland has doubled in the past year to $16,800. “Irish businesses paid more regularly than the rest, with 25% paying five times or more to recover data, but ransom costs were among the lowest,” the report reads.

Read more: EXSiArgs ransomware gang evolves malware to beat CISA workaround

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