Shipping giant Clarksons suffers data breach, says won’t pay ransom to hacker

Shipping giant Clarksons PLC has announced that a malicious hacker gained access to sensitive enterprise data by breaching a user account and has threatened to make such data public in the coming days.

Clarksons said it will not pay any ransom to the malicious hacker and is working with the police to minimise any disclosure of sensitive data.

In a detailed press release, Clarksons added that the malicious actor in question gained unauthorised access to a user account and stole information that are sensitive and confidential in nature. The hacker is now threatening to release portions of such data to the public if the company doesn't pay ransom.

'Our initial investigations have shown the unauthorised access was gained via a single and isolated user account which has now been disabled. We have also put in place additional security measures to best prevent a similar incident happening in the future. Clarksons would like to reassure clients and shareholders that this incident has not, and does not, affect its ability to do business,' the company said.

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While it did confirm that the hacker stole confidential secrets, Clarksons did not confirm how much data was lost and whether such data pertained to personally identifiable information of customers. However, it said that it is working with data security experts to investigate the breach and has notified regulatory authorities as well.

' As you would rightly expect, we’re working closely with specialist police teams and data security experts to do all we can to best understand the incident and what we can do to protect our clients now and in the future.

'In the meantime, I hope our clients understand that we would not be held to ransom by criminals, and I would like to sincerely apologise for any concern this incident may have understandably raised,' said Andi Case, CEO of Clarksons.

Mark James, Security Specialist at ESET, told TEISS that Clarksons' refusal to pay ransom to the hacker is a step in the right direction. 'Paying the bad guys may have done no more than labelled them as “willing to pay” for possible targeted attacks, and of course, does not guarantee the safety or nondisclosure of the files,' he said.

'Coming clean in a timely manner and working with authorities to mitigate the damages is always the best course of action- data breaches sadly are a consequence of our digital existence and the means of which we deal with them can make a huge difference to public perception and limit the aftermath,' he added.

'Data breaches are almost inevitable. But they needn’t be a disaster. Indeed handled right they can even be a source of competitive strength,' said Jeremy Swinfen-Green, Head of Consulting at TEISS.

'A well-managed response, backed up by strong planning and a practised multi-functional incident response team (IRT), can reassure consumers affected by the breach. A strong response can even persuade them that the breached organisation will be more secure in the future – quite possibly more secure than competitors,'he added.