• Wonga Data breach: Internet users must be security conscious. | Image from Wikimedia

Wonga, the British payday loan company that provides short-term loans has notified hundreds of thousands of its customers of a data breach. The data that was stolen include customer bank details like names, addresses, account numbers and sort codes. Wonga is investigating the “illegal and unauthorised access” to its servers that have left customers in Britain and Poland vulnerable. According to a spokesperson from the lending company, 245,000 customers were affected in Britain and 25,000 in Poland.

The company suspected foul play last Tuesday but evidence of hacking was confirmed beyond doubt on Friday. Customers were notified via text and email the next day to take precautionary security measures. Stolen data may also have included the last four digits of bank cards, but the company has insisted that customers’ accounts are secure.

The company has warned customers to look out for ‘unusual activity’, which means customers should be very suspicious and on high alert. Customers should be apprehensive of cold calls or emails requesting sensitive information. Wonga has

Wonga has apologised to its customers and has set up a help page and dedicated phone-lines to customers. The company has asked customers to change their passwords and to ask their banks to look out for any suspicious activity.

Hackers are becoming more audacious and online companies and institutions have an obligation to educate customers on the best security practices. According to the Police and Information Commissioner’s office, “all organisations have a responsibility to keep customers’ personal information secure.” Wonga is working with security agencies to investigate the extent and the source of the data breach.

Awful, average or astonishing? You decide: