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An inquiry has been launched into online data protection and cyber-security in the wake of the TalkTalk hack which took place in October. 

The Culture, Media and Sport Committee has launched the investigation, which will look at the TalkTalk data breaches, as well as discussing telecoms’ and internet service providers’ obligations when it comes to its customers’ data security. 

TalkTalk’s 36-hour security breach affected approximately 160,000 of the broadband provider’s customers. 

Arrests have now been made surrounding the hack, with the perpetrator having accessed customers’ credit and debit card information as well as their names, dates of birth and email addresses. 

TalkTalk has also experienced two other data breaches during the last year.

Ms Harding said that at the time of the October attack, Scotland Yard advised the company to keep the occurrence a secret so police would be able to conduct an investigation and make the relevant arrests. 

Answering questions at the House of Common Culture, Media and Sport Committee, Ms Harding commented that it was "one of the most difficult periods for the TalkTalk board and for me personally.”

She continued: "I was clear by the lunch time on the Thursday (October 22) that the sensible thing to do to protect my customers was to warn all of them because I could help make them safer. I could give them free credit monitoring, I could warn them not to accept these scam calls.”

Ms Harding said the advice received from the Metropolitan Police was “completely understandable”. 

The CEO also said that she did not agree that compensation claims were valid as she was “not aware of anyone who has directly lost money as a direct consequence of the attack.”

“We wish to deal with on a case-by-case basis,” she added. 

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