Over 300 Spar Stores in Northern UK Shut After Cyberattack Hits Payment Processing Capabilities

  • Last updated December 7, 2021
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A Dutch supermarket chain, Spar shuts over 300 of its stores after suffering from a cyberattack on its systems. 

According to a spokesman of Spar:

“This has not affected all SPAR stores across the North of England, but a number have been impacted over the past 24 hours and we are working to resolve this situation as quickly as possible.”

The chain has 2600 locations in England and is said to be hit by an “online attack” that left some of its stores unable to make payments through cards.

When asked by customers about why their stores in various areas of the country, including Lancashire and Yorkshire, were closed, Spar UK sent a tweet:

A local Lancashire news site, LancsLive, reported that a complete and widespread IT outage hit the supermarket chain on the weekend and is facing some security breach issues until today.

It further revealed that the website of the food distributor James Hall & Co, which is known to provide services to 600 Spar stores, is indicating a network collapse through an Error 20 code.

The food distributor informed LancsLive:

“At James Hall we are currently aware of an online attack on our IT systems. This has affected around 330 SPAR stores across the North of England over the past 24 hours and we are working to resolve this situation as quickly as possible,”

“It is currently impacting stores’ ability to process card payments meaning that a number of SPAR stores are currently closed to shoppers or only taking cash payments. We apologise for the inconvenience this is causing our customers and we are working as quickly as possible to resolve the situation,”

Until now, it hasn’t been known if the occurrences were due to a catastrophic IT failure or part of a ransomware attack.

A Spar franchise, Lawrence Hunt & Co Ltd, announced shutting down on their Facebook yesterday, saying that it was “due to a total network outage affecting tills, credit cards, and back office systems.”

spar_lawrence_hunt_closures_decemberSource: The Register

Spar isn’t the first massive UK chain to face a cyberattack. Previously, Tesco suffered a two-day outage caused by an attempt of interference caused by malicious people on its website in October.

Just a few weeks after this, the website of Angling Direct was compromised that ended up directing visitors looking for a fishing tackle to sites highlighting a completely different kind of tackle. Another retailer named Furniture Village was also hit by a cyberattack in June.

A spokesperson of the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) told ZDNet:

“We are aware of an issue affecting Spar stores and are working with partners to fully understand the incident,”

“The NCSC has published guidance for organisations on how to effectively detect, respond to, and resolve cyber incidents.”

Cyberattacks aren’t only confined to the UK. In fact, they are actively taking place all over the world. Previously, it was revealed that the infamous traveling website Booking.com was allegedly hacked by a US intel agency. A similar data breach was faced by LinkedIn, resulting in the data leak of 700m users.


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