TalkTalk cyber attack: Chief exec Dido Harding comes out fighting over data hacking crisis

 
Julian Harris
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The cyber attack could have affected the firm's more than four million customers (Source: Getty)

TalkTalk chief exec Dido Harding showed no sign of bowing to calls for her resignation last night, insisting that the company could emerge stronger from a hacking crisis that has seen more than a billion items of customer data stolen from its website.

Baroness Harding, who became a Conservative peer last year, said that Labour politicians who have attacked the firm are “more interested in grandstanding than they are in actually helping their constituents.”

Labour shadow minister Jack Dromey argued over the weekend that Harding “should now consider her position.” Labour MP Keith Vaz, who chairs the home affairs committee, called for an investigation into the London-listed telecoms firm.

Harding told City A.M. last night that the company has been speaking to concerned shareholders, but insisted she has not come under pressure to resign. “We’ve been a victim of a crime... we’re doing our absolute best to do what’s right for our customers which in the end we think will create long term value for our shareholders,” Harding said.

“Cyber crime is the crime of our era, of our generation, every single company in the world probably isn’t spending enough money on it – we are not the only ones.”

Read more: TalkTalk share price falls after "significant and sustained cyber attack"

Harding appears to have the support of chairman Sir Charles Dunstone, who has suggested that his fellow shareholders are sympathetic.

“My chairman has spent most of the weekend in the office working with me, so I’ve seen a lot of my largest shareholder. Of course we have [spoken to them], that’s entirely their prerogative, of course they should be talking to us.”

She added: “Our customers will judge us and judge me, and if I was busy worrying about my job or my bonus right now I’d be doing my job extremely badly – and I’m not, I’m focused on doing what’s right for customers. It seems to me the Labour politicians are more interested in grandstanding than they are in actually helping their constituents.”

Shares in TalkTalk dropped more than 10 per cent during trading at the end of last week after news of the cyber attack broke on Thursday night. However, the stock recovered during Friday’s sessions and closed 4.36 per cent down.

Regarding the financial risk to TalkTalk from the fallout, Harding said: “I think it is much smaller than people are suggesting.”

TalkTalk is working with military supply company BAE Systems as it looks into the hack, which could have affected the company’s more than four million customers.

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