Monday 24 October 2016

TalkTalk hack: Boy at centre of cyber attack probe returns to his home in NI

The Ballymena teenager has been arrested over one of Britain's biggest-ever cyber crimes

Nevin Farrell

Published 27/10/2015 | 18:04

TalkTalk hack: The investigation involves the Met's cyber crime unit, the PSNI's cyber crime centre and the National Crime Agency. (File image)
TalkTalk hack: The investigation involves the Met's cyber crime unit, the PSNI's cyber crime centre and the National Crime Agency. (File image)

The 15-year-old boy at the centre of the TalkTalk hacking probe is back at home in his Northern Ireland home after being released on bail.

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The teenager was arrested at around 4pm on Monday and questioned overnight by PSNI officers on suspicion of Computer Misuse Act offences.

Neighbours in the sprawling Ballykeel Two housing estate in Ballymena spoke of their shock at the arrest, saying "there were police cars all over the place".

The boy's mother, who cannot be named to protect his identity as he is a minor in the eyes of the law, said she was  "not interested" in speaking to the media.

North Antrim MP Ian Paisley urged the press to respect the privacy and requests of the family of the boy, after he was named in some media reports in England.

The Democratic Unionist MP said: “I have spoken with the mother of the teenager arrested and bailed in relation to the TalkTalk case. The family are trying to come to terms with this situation and although they appreciate the wide public and press interest in this matter, can I appeal for the press to cease contacting the family at their home.

“They cannot comment publicly and the teenager in question cannot make any public comments. I would appeal to the press to respect the family’s request for privacy and allow the process of law and order to run its course.”


A neighbour said: "It all happened around 4.30pm yesterday across the street.

"It is amazing to think that this attack could be linked to this area.

"The police were there to all hours. A big white police van sat there for a long time. There were police cars all over the place.

"The police went away about 12.30am this morning. When I looked out then there were still two police officers standing. We couldn't believe a 15-year-old boy has been arrested."

Another man said: "The lad himself goes about on a skateboard and has a girlfriend."

Police said on Tuesday: "A 15-year-old youth, arrested in County Antrim yesterday as part of the investigation into the alleged theft of data from the firm Talk Talk, has been released on bail pending further enquiries.

"The investigation being conducted by the Metropolitan Police Cyber Crime Unit, Police Service of Northern Ireland and National Crime Agency is continuing."

News that the TalkTalk website had been hit by a “significant and sustained cyber-attack” broke last week.

The phone and broadband provider, which has over four million UK customers, said banking details and personal information could have been accessed.

A criminal investigation was launched on Thursday.

The company said it did not know how much of their customer information had been encrypted.

At the weekend, TalkTalk’s chief executive said the attack was “smaller” than originally thought.

Dido Harding said any credit card details taken would have been partial and the information may not have been enough to withdraw money “on its own”.

Card details accessed were incomplete - with many numbers appearing as an x - and “not usable” for financial transactions, it added.

Business leaders have called for urgent action to tackle cyber crime in the wake of the TalkTalk attack.

North Antrim MP Ian Paisley welcomed the police action in relation to the TalkTalk hacking attack.

“The type of attack suffered by TalkTalk once again highlights the significant danger that cybercrime poses and the impact that it can have on the community. Virtually every household will have banking or other personal information stored by companies on computer systems and should those systems be compromised it can leave people vulnerable to a range of crimes.”

On Monday, MPs said an inquiry would be launched into the cyber-attack that could have put customers’ details at risk.

Culture minister Ed Vaizey told the House of Commons the government was not against compulsory encryption for firms holding customer data.

Shares in the telecoms company fell more than 12% in Monday trading, extending its losses from last week, when news of the attack first emerged.

Belfast Telegraph

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