The police have been called in to assist Internet service provider Virgin.net following Sunday's "security breach," that forced the company to close all its email accounts and prevented thousands of users getting online.
Virgin.net has sent letters to thousands of subscribers apologising for the situation and instructed them to use new passwords when logging onto their accounts. The company has promised that no emails will be lost or rejected.
Virgin.net refuses to confirm or deny whether a malicious hacker gained access to users email accounts. A Virgin.net spokesman says precise details of the security breach, revealed yesterday, could not be revealed because of the ongoing police investigation. "It would be unwise to disclose that at the moment," he says, "but we are working closely with police."
The spokesman did however, reveal that 166,000 Virgin.net users were left open to a relatively simple attack "that would have meant unauthorised access to customers' email accounts via the normal route of using passwords and usernames."
At its home page Virgin.net has posted a list of questions and answers for customers concerned by the scare.
Millionaire entrepreneur Richard Branson set up Virgin.net as the online division of the Virgin empire at the beginning on 1999, on the crest of the "free-Internet" wave started by Freeserve. Virgin.net is not only a non-subscription Internet service provider but also acts as a portal for Virgin's retail, airline and entertainment services.
If you are a Virgin.net subscriber and are worried about unauthorised access to your email, visit this specially created page: http://www.virgin.net/fixmail to change your password.
This isn't the first time a security breach has opened up an ISP's service to attack. Are you worried? Tell the Mailroom