Foxtons customer data leaked onto the dark web

Flat to let displaying Foxtons real estate agency sign in London, UK
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Financial details belonging to customers of UK estate agency Foxtons are widely available on the dark web following a malware attack in October last year that affected parent company Foxtons Group.

Despite admitting that the incident affected its subsidiary Alexander Hall, which specialises in mortgage broking, Foxtons assured its customers at the time that no “sensitive data” had been stolen.

However, it has now been revealed that anyone with access to the dark web can view 16,000 card details, addresses and private correspondence - such as details of paid fees - belonging to Foxtons Group customers prior to 2010.

The personal information has been available since at least 12 October 2020, inews reports, two days after the malware attack took place. Since then, the files have been viewed over 15,000 times.

The company is accused of having knowledge of the availability of the data since last month and of failing to inform its customers, particularly those affected by the breach.

According to its website, the estate agency holds “over three million customer records”.

Ray Walsh, digital privacy expert at ProPrivacy, told IT Pro that it’s unsurprising that “sensitive consumer data stolen from Foxtons Group last October is floating around the dark web”.

“This is, after all, the point of these types of hacks,” he added.

Walsh noted that around 20% of the analysed cards details stolen in the attack are still active, “meaning that those consumers need to be informed now so that they can cancel their cards, and check back through their statements for any irregularity”.

“If Foxtons knew the full scale of this breach two days after the attack – and did nothing to warn consumers – it would be an astonishing dereliction of duty, but we must now wait for the ICO investigation to assess what happened and what kind of fines Foxton should face,” he said.

Foxtons reportedly informed the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) of the attack last year, but Walsh believes that “it is likely a fine will be imminent”.

“Some of the data that has been unearthed on the dark web predates 2010, and the hacker has suggested that the older information is being used to advertise the hack while selling more up-to-date records in secret. If this is true the risk to consumers is even bigger and it is vital that Foxtons immediately contact all customers potentially caught up in this mess,” he added.

However, a Foxtons spokesperson told IT Pro that the company had "forensically been through all the stolen data and confirm it is both old and incomplete therefore not useable by a third party and not possible for it to cause financial loss or harm to those affected customers".

"All necessary disclosures have been made and full details of the attack were provided to the FCA and ICO at the time. We are satisfied that the attack did not result in the loss of any data that could be damaging to customers and believe that the FCA and ICO are satisfied with our response," they added.

Sabina Weston

Having only graduated from City University in 2019, Sabina has already demonstrated her abilities as a keen writer and effective journalist. Currently a content writer for Drapers, Sabina spent a number of years writing for ITPro, specialising in networking and telecommunications, as well as charting the efforts of technology companies to improve their inclusion and diversity strategies, a topic close to her heart.

Sabina has also held a number of editorial roles at Harper's Bazaar, Cube Collective, and HighClouds.