Wednesday 13 May 2020 3:26 pm

Interserve hit by cyber attack as hackers target hospital construction firms

Outsourcing group Interserve has been left reeling from a cyber attack earlier this month as criminals target construction firms involved in the UK’s coronavirus response.

Hackers broke into an HR database and stole details of current and former employees, the Telegraph reported, citing a company insider.

Read more: UK warns of state-backed cyber criminals ‘exploiting’ coronavirus crisis

It is not clear exactly what data was stolen, but it could include sensitive information such as names, addresses and bank details.

Interserve, which recently helped to build the NHS Nightingale hospital in Birmingham, said some of its operations may be affected.

The outsourcing firm, which employs roughly 53,500 people, was bought out of administration by a group of lenders in March last year.

It is now one of the government’s so-called strategic suppliers and many of its staff are in frontline roles tackling the coronavirus outbreak.

“Interserve is working closely with the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) and Strategic Incident Response teams to investigate, contain and remedy the situation,” the company said in a statement.

“This will take some time and some operational services may be affected. Interserve has informed the Information Commissioner of the incident. We will provide further updates when appropriate.”

Interserve told its employees, former employees, clients and suppliers to exercise “heightened vigilance” following the cyber breach.

It follows a similar attack last week on Bam Construct, which recently worked on the Nightingale hospital in Yorkshire and the Humber.

Bam said it had shut down its website and some other systems after the cyber attack but that its day-to-day business remained largely unaffected.

Read more: Rival states launch cyber attacks on UK and US coronavirus labs

Andrew Tsonchev, director of technology at cybersecurity firm Darktrace, said the attacks served as “yet another warning that cyber criminals are seeking to exploit the coronavirus pandemic and disrupt the country’s fight against the disease”.

“It is no coincidence that in the same week two construction companies, Interserve and Bam, which played important roles in building Nightingale Hospitals for the NHS, were attacked,” he said.

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