British telecoms firm TalkTalk would love the world to think that they suffered a highly sophisticated and sustained attack. The truth, however, is that they fell foul of a bog standard SQL injection attack – the type that any decent web programmer has been hardening their systems against for the last 20 years or so.
As I describe in my video, the SQL injection attack, combined with leaving database software unpatched 3.5 years after a fix was available, and not putting better monitoring systems in place after earlier attacks, meant that TalkTalk was easy prey for a 16-year-old hacker to breach their systems.
The boy, now 17 years old, pleaded guilty at Norwich Youth Court today to seven charges under the Computer Misuse Act.
As BBC News reports, there’s a chance that the hacker has learnt his lesson:
The cyber attack on the company in October 2015 prompted fears thousands of people may have had their online details stolen.
The boy told magistrates: “I didn’t think of the consequences at the time. I was just showing off to my mates.”
“It was a passion, not any more. I won’t let it happen again. I have grown up,” he added.
We can only hope that TalkTalk, and other companies, have learnt their lesson too.