Government , Incident & Breach Response , Industry Specific

British Outsourcing Giant Capita Disrupted by Online Attack

Firm Has Major Public Sector Contracts, Including With Britain's NHS and Military
British Outsourcing Giant Capita Disrupted by Online Attack

British outsourcing service provider Capita, which has major U.K. healthcare and military contracts, confirmed an online attack is behind ongoing IT failures for some of its customers.

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Capita "experienced a cyber incident primarily impacting access to internal Microsoft Office 365 applications," the company said in a statement published by the London Stock Exchange, where the company is listed. "This caused disruption to some services provided to individual clients, though the majority of our client services remained in operation."

The London-based company said its security monitoring team detected the Friday attack and quickly responded. The outage was reported by multiple media outlets.

Capita has not stated if a ransomware attack was involved in the disruption of its systems.

"Immediate steps were taken to successfully isolate and contain the issue," the company said. "The issue was limited to parts of the Capita network and there is no evidence of customer, supplier or colleague data having been compromised."

On Monday, the company reported that while Microsoft Office 365 access has been restored for Capita employees, it hasn't finished restoring all affected client services.

The company has three divisions - Capita Public Service, Capita Experience and Capita Portfolio - and counts customers in the U.K., Europe, India and South Africa.

Services provided by the outsourcing giant include recruiting officers and soldiers for the British Army, collecting London's congestion charge from motorists, handling electronic tagging and monitoring of individuals for the Ministry of Justice, as well as running Wi-Fi access points at football stadiums, designing simulators for the Royal Navy and providing customer service for a German telecommunications firm.

The company also has contracts with Britain's National Health Service, including for recruitment as well as handling logistics for doctors' practices.

Capita has a total of $8 billion in public sector contracts, The Guardian reported.

Capita hasn't always delivered the services for which it was contracted within agreed time frames. In 2019, notably, NHS England canceled a contract with Capita to provide cervical screening services, bringing the program back in-house after the outsourcing provider failed to properly inform more than 40,000 women about cervical cancer screening information. British medical officials said the errors potentially put the women at risk.

In March 2022, Capita confirmed that some individuals' military recruitment data had been compromised by attackers, after The Register reported that about 125 individuals' details had showed up for sale on a cybercrime forum. The company temporarily took its armed forces recruitment services offline while it investigated the apparent data breach.

About the Author

Mathew J. Schwartz

Mathew J. Schwartz

Executive Editor, DataBreachToday & Europe, ISMG

Schwartz is an award-winning journalist with two decades of experience in magazines, newspapers and electronic media. He has covered the information security and privacy sector throughout his career. Before joining Information Security Media Group in 2014, where he now serves as the executive editor, DataBreachToday and for European news coverage, Schwartz was the information security beat reporter for InformationWeek and a frequent contributor to DarkReading, among other publications. He lives in Scotland.

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