Water Industry News

Southern Water Confirms Data Breach

Towards the end of January, it emerged that the Black Basta ransomware group had claimed responsibility for a cyber attack on utility company Southern Water, sharing a snippet of the stolen information, which included scans of driving licences, passports, HR documents and corporate car-leasing paperwork… and now, following an internal investigation, Southern Water has indeed confirmed that a data breach did take place.


On February 12th, the firm announced that data from its server estate had been stolen and that it is now working closely with its expert technical advisers to determine whose data is currently at risk, with initial reviews suggesting that some customers and both current and former employees are affected.


It seems that approximately five to ten per cent of the customer base has been compromised, with notifications being sent out to members of staff featuring security advice and guidance on precautionary steps, as well as details of the support available.


This includes enhanced Experian credit monitoring for the next 12 months, with the aim being to detect and prevent fraudulent misuse of personal information.


In a statement, the company said: “We have engaged leading independent cybersecurity experts to monitor the dark web. They continue to report to us that, since we were named on the cyber criminals’ site on 22nd January 2024, they have found no new evidence of the data potentially involved in this cyber incident being published online.


“They will continue to carry out their checks for as long as is necessary. We take data protection and information security very seriously and, in accordance with our regulatory obligations, we are making contact with anyone whose personal data may be at risk.”


Incident response experts have also been called in to work alongside Southern Water’s own IT security teams, making use of enhanced monitoring and protection tools to carry out active checks for suspicious activity.


The importance of security reputations


Southern Water provides water services to 2.5 million customers and wastewater services to over 4.7 million across Sussex, Kent, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, so data breaches could cause serious disruption and make the company seem less trustworthy and reliable as a result.

While you’re unable to choose your water wholesaler, as a business you are able to switch water supplier and find one that suits your specific needs, one that has experience of working with firms in your industry… and, crucially, one that you feel you can trust.


It always pays to do due diligence whenever you’re thinking about changing a service provider of any kind, so you know that you’re getting the best deal for you and that you aren’t making a potentially time-consuming and expensive mistake. The last thing you want is to be locked into a contract with a company that isn’t right for you.


Being aware of security concerns is an absolute must these days as all businesses, big and small alike, are at risk of being targeted by cyber criminals. As such, it makes good sense to choose your providers based in part on how robust their security measures are and how seriously they take cyber crime.


Being cyber ready rather than cyber fearful will certainly stand you in good stead, as it’s highly likely that data breaches will occur at some point.


Accepting that this is largely inevitable in the 21st century and beyond will help you see which retailers are prioritising cyber security and which are simply looking at it as a box-ticking exercise, one that needs to be completed in order for them to remain compliant.


Choosing your business water supplier


When it comes to finding the right retailer for you and your business, it’s not just security policies that you need to take into account and there are various critical factors that require serious consideration before you sign on the dotted line.


Make sure you delve into the likes of price, quality of service, flexibility, responsiveness, customer service, value for money, reliability and so on to ensure that you’re finding the best option for you.


Don’t always be attracted by the cheapest option, as these won’t always represent the best value for money. The key is to strike a balance between cost and the rest of their service provision so you know that you’re paying a fair price for what you’re getting.


The good news is that since the English water retail market opened up back in April 2017 there are growing numbers of retailers to choose from, so you’re sure to be able to find one that suits you and your business well.


Benefits of switching include improved standards of service, advice on how to save water, lower prices and tailored service offerings, all while still enjoying the same water quality that you’re used to.


However, having so many retailers to consider can be a bit overwhelming and it can be very difficult to work out which one is right, particularly if you’ve never switched before.


This is where the Switch water Supplier team really comes into its own. We can do all the legwork for you, carrying out an audit of your entire site and reviewing your historical bills to work out where and how you’re using water. We can then make recommendations as to which retailers would be the best fit based on what we discover.


If you’d like to find out more about the switching process and how we can help, get in touch with the team today. We have more than 30 years of experience working in the water industry, so we’re perfectly placed to help you make the switch as quickly and as easily as possible.