Cyber attack on Wetherspoons could cost pub chain more than just beer money

Stephan Shakespeare
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The pub group's customers' details were hacked in June but it has only just come to light (Source: Getty)

In the latest instalment of cyber attacks on British businesses, the personal details of up to 657,000 customers of pub chain JD Wetherspoons have been hacked.

Email addresses, phone numbers, and dates of birth were all stolen and put up for sale on what is known as the dark web. The attack was in June, but the pub chain only became aware of it on 1 December.

In terms of the public in general, it looks as though the impact of the breach has been negligible.

JD Wetherspoon’s Buzz Score (whether a respondent has heard something positive or negative about a brand in the last two weeks) has decreased, but only by two points.

This may be because the information stolen was limited and cannot be used to extract money.

YouGov Profiles' set of data indicates who the most likely Wetherspoons customer is. As we may expect, compared to the national average, males aged over 35 are the pub chain’s main patrons. Among this demographic, the fall in Buzz score has been more pronounced – a decrease of six points.

Wetherspoons has worked hard to stress to victims of the attack and to the general public that they are doing everything possible to investigate the matter.

Overall, our figures do not point to a crisis for the organisation. Naturally, the public view pubs in a different way to technology companies, but there are lessons to be learned for business more generally.

What is clear is that this type of crime is becoming increasingly common and sophisticated.

Businesses must revisit their cyber security policy as a matter of urgency. They must be mindful that hard-fought consumer trust can be lost in an instant, sometimes irrevocably.

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