Britain’s largest online fishing supply shop, Angling Direct, was recently hacked by malicious operators with keen anglers using the ecommerce platform finding themselves redirected to an adult site.

The incident caused chaos for the firm, which was forced to close its social media accounts as well as its website over the course of the attack, with an unknown hacker posting false tweets on its behalf.

From fishing to phishing?

Well-known by professional and amateur anglers alike across the UK, Angling Direct sells fishing equipment online and via its retail outlets. In a recent statement, the enterprise announced that it was managing a continuing cybersecurity event after its team detected unauthorised activity occurring on the company network.

After detecting the hacking activity, the company quickly moved to shut down its website and dedicated social media accounts, but not before the malicious operator was able to cause considerable trouble.

Having hacked into the official Twitter account of Angling Direct, the operator posted a tweet claiming that the company had been bought by the adult website Pornhub. The social media post added that Angling Direct members with a registered account would now be able to enjoy free access to Pornhub’s premium service for a whole year.

Actions taken following a cyberattack

A spokesperson for Angling Direct informed Norwich Evening News that the firm’s team was working day and night to get the company’s online presence reinstated online, but added that its 29 retail outlets based throughout the UK were not impacted by the malicious incident and were still open and trading as normal.

According to the statement, as a precautionary measure, Angling Direct has informed both relevant law enforcement groups and data regulators, including the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

When asked about how the company’s customers had been affected by the attack, the spokesperson commented that at this early stage of investigating the event it was still too soon to work out if shoppers using the site were at risk of having their personal details compromised. However, they were keen to confirm that Angling Direct never retains its customers’ financial details.

Commenting on the impact of the cyberattack, the spokesperson added:

“As matters currently stand, the board does not anticipate that this incident will have a detrimental impact on underlying trading and the company will continue to assess any cost exposure that this incident may create. The board will provide a further update as and when appropriate and apologises for any disruption that has been caused to customers by this incident.”

The motivations behind cyberattacks can vary greatly. While some hacks are financially motivated, others involve theft of private data for use in other cybercriminal campaigns. Other attacks are simply designed to cause as much disruption to their victims as possible. Hacks can result in a wide range of negative scenarios including embarrassment, loss of reputation, customers seeking other companies to purchase from, along with the loss of trading while online selling platforms are no longer secure.