A ransomware attack on a third-party supplier has compromised the personal details of thousands of officers with Greater Manchester Police (GMP) in North West England.
Although neither financial information nor home addresses were exposed in the incident according to GMP, the risk of officers’ personal details being obtained by organized crime groups — including those working in undercover roles — has prompted the involvement of the National Crime Agency.
GMP Assistant Chief Constable Colin McFarlane said: “We are aware of a ransomware attack affecting a third-party supplier of various UK organizations, including GMP, which holds some information on those employed by GMP.”
Ransomware attacks on British organizations reached record levels last year, as Recorded Future News reported this week, when at least 5.3 million people had their data stolen in cyber extortion incidents.
The force employs just over 11,000 people and polices a territory with a population of approximately 2.7 million. The third-party supplier has not been named but was identified as based in Stockport by BBC News.
“We understand how concerning this is for our employees so, as we work to understand any impact on GMP, we have contacted the Information Commissioner’s Office and are doing everything we can to ensure employees are kept informed, their questions are answered, and they feel supported.
“This is being treated extremely seriously, with a nationally-led criminal investigation into the attack,” added assistant chief constable McFarlane.
It follows another incident affecting the Metropolitan Police Service in London which is believed to have exposed the names, photographs and ranks of the force’s 47,000 personnel.
Rick Prior, the vice chair of the Metropolitan Police Federation — the policing union representing more than 30,000 officers — said that incident would cause “incredible concern and anger” among officers.
“We share that sense of fury,” he added. “This is a staggering security breach. We will be holding the Metropolitan Police to account for what has happened.”
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Alexander Martin is the UK Editor for Recorded Future News. He was previously a technology reporter for Sky News and is also a fellow at the European Cyber Conflict Research Initiative.