LONDON-Powergen Plc, a United Kingdom electricity provider, has initiated a review of its website security and an internal inquiry into how access was gained to data on customers who pay their accounts online by credit or debit card. The company was alerted by customer John Chamberlain who had been able to access the information.
“We take security of customer information extremely seriously and I am sorry that this has happened and that customers may have been inconvenienced,” said Mike Wagner, Powergen retail managing director. “The website was immediately closed down and our systems experts confirmed that this was a one-off incident. Initial investigations showed that the information which had been accessed was in a file which due to a technical error was temporarily outside of the security gate of the system. This was immediately corrected and new procedures introduced to eliminate the possibility of it happening again. There was no breach of the security of our main customer database.
Powergen is directly contacting customers who pay accounts via the Internet and will assure them that the problem has been corrected. The company has also set up a free phone customer information hotline and urge its customers who are concerned to contact this number: (0800 0157755). As an additional security measure, the company is advising customers to change their card numbers and Powergen will offer compensation for the inconvenience. Meanwhile the online transaction site remains closed.
“We are now embarking on a wider reaching review of systems security in conjunction with external expert consultants and will be in further contact with John Chamberlain to assist us with this review. We plan to publish the results of the external consultants” audit on our website.
“This has clearly raised some more general concerns about payment over the Internet. I will be asking banks, other financial services organizations and companies engaging in transactions over the web to discuss these wider issues with us. However, we remain committed to the Internet as customers increasingly find it a convenient way of doing business with us.”