Irish betting operator Paddy Power has admitted it was the victim of a cyber-attack in which digital thieves made off with the personal data of nearly 650k customers. The data breach occurred four years ago, yet the first mention Paddy players heard of the incident came via a statement Paddy issued on Thursday.
Paddy insisted that “no financial information or customer passwords” had been accessed during the breach and that a “full investigation” had failed to produce any evidence that customer accounts had been “adversely impacted.” The breach affects only those players who held accounts with Paddy in 2010, so anyone who opened a Paddy account in later years is off the hook.
The hackers reportedly gained access to customer names, usernames, addresses (physical and email), phone numbers, dates of birth and security prompt questions and answers. Most (461k) of the affected customers were in the UK, with another 121k in Ireland and 67k international accounts. Customers have been advised to review their data with other sites, particularly if they use similar security prompts.
Paddy had been aware of the breach back in 2010 but chose not to inform punters after a “detailed investigation” determined that no customer financial data had been “put at risk.” In May of this year, Paddy learned that an individual in Canada had possession of a historical customer database. On July 7, with the help of the Ontario Provincial Police, Paddy obtained the individual’s IT assets, deleted the relevant files and scanned the individual’s bank records to check for evidence of shenanigans.
Paddy’s online managing director Peter O’Donovan said the company took its data guarding responsibilities “extremely seriously” and was “very confident” in the robustness of Paddy’s current security systems and processes. While the brouhaha earned Paddy a lot of negative press, investors didn’t seem all that bothered as the share price posted a modest gain in Thursday’s trading.
Meanwhile, Paddy’s name surfaced earlier this week in a somewhat bizarre report by Numis analysts, who suggested Paddy should merge with UK bookies William Hill. The marriage would seem an odd one, given that the companies engaged in a public feud earlier this year over the issue of curbing the number of new betting shops on UK high streets. Paddy’s retail boss Andy McCue went as far as to characterize Hills’ support of curbs as an “anti-competitive diversion” designed to frustrate Paddy’s desire to increase its UK retail footprint, which is currently one-tenth the size of Hills’ retail operations.
The looming imposition of the UK’s 15% point of consumption tax is expected to produce extra pressure on industry laggards to consolidate, but it’s hard to see why these two firms should feel any greater urge to rush to the altar. While Numis argues that the two businesses would complement each other well, the merger suggestion seems more inspired by the fact that some wag decided the combined entities could name themselves Will Power. Oh, such a larf…