Data Protection Breach

21st November 2011


The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has ruled that cosmetics retailer Lush breached the Data Protection Act after the security of its website was compromised. The breach, which happened between October 2010 and January 2011, meant that hackers could access the payment details of 5,000 customers who had previously used the company’s website.

Lush has signed an undertaking to ensure that future customer credit card data will be processed in accordance with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard.

The ICO is warning online retailers that if they do not adopt this standard, or provide equivalent protection when processing customers’ credit card details, they risk enforcement action from the ICO.

Lush discovered the security lapse in January 2011 after receiving complaints from 95 customers who had been the victim of card fraud. On investigating, Lush discovered that hackers had managed to access their customers’ payment details.

The ICO’s investigation found that Lush’s systems were not sufficient to prevent a determined attack on their website. The business’s procedures for recording suspicious activity on their website were also insufficient, causing a delay in identifying the security breach.

Acting Head of Enforcement, Sally Anne Poole said:

‘With over 31 million people having shopped online last year, retailers must recognise the value of the information they hold and that their websites are a potential target for criminals.’

‘Lush took some steps to protect their customers’ data but failed to do regular security checks and did not fully meet industry standards relating to card payment security. Had they done this, it may have prevented the fraud taking place and could have saved the victims a great deal of worry and time invested in claiming their money back. This breach should serve as a warning to all retailers that online security must be taken seriously and that the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard or an equivalent must be followed at all times.’

Internet link: ICO press release

Posted – 21/11/2011