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London Police to launch probe into recent IT hack

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New Scotland Yard, the headquarters of the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS), is pictured in central London on March 21, 2023. — AFP/File
New Scotland Yard, the headquarters of the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS), is pictured in central London on March 21, 2023. — AFP/File

The Metropolitan Police force in London revealed Sunday that they have taken security precautions due to “unauthorised access to the IT system of one of its suppliers,” after other police forces experienced similar data breaches.

The supplier in question had access to officers’ and staff’s names, ranks, photos, vetting levels, and pay numbers but not their addresses, phone numbers, or financial information.

According to The Sun on Sunday newspaper, “cyber crooks penetrated the IT systems” of the firm which reportedly prints identity cards and staff passes for the Met, the UK’s biggest police force.

Scotland Yard has stated that they are currently collaborating with the company to investigate any potential security breaches in their data. Unfortunately, a spokesperson was unable to provide details on when the breach occurred or how many individuals may have been impacted.

“Security measures have been taken… as a result of this report,” the force said in a statement.

The Metropolitan Police Federation, which represents rank-and-file officers, said the breach would “cause colleagues incredible concern and anger”.

“We share that sense of fury… this is a staggering security breach that should never have happened,” said Vice Chair Rick Prior.

The London breach follows an admission this month by the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) that personal data on all serving members was mistakenly published in response to a Freedom of Information (FOI) request, AFP reported.

The published details included the surname and first initial of around 10,000 PSNI officers and staff, their rank or grade, where they were based, and the unit they worked in.

The error comes months after the terrorism threat level in the UK-run province was increased to “severe” in response to an assassination attempt on a senior police officer by dissident republicans.

After the PSNI breach was revealed, Norfolk and Suffolk Police also announced that the personal data of more than 1,000 people — including crime victims — was included in another FOI response.

On Wednesday, South Yorkshire Police referred itself to the Information Commissioner’s Office after noticing “a significant and unexplained reduction in data stored on its systems”.

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