a customer making a contactless card payment on a terminal in a small retail shop.

Spar cyberattack forces store closures

More than 300 Spar convenience stores were recently forced to close – in some cases for several days – following a cyberattack.

While some stores were able to remain open, they could only conduct cash transactions owing to the impact on Spar’s IT systems. Where Spar operates in rural and semi-rural locations, the outage caused significant difficulties for many members of the local community, particularly in areas recently hit by storms Arwen and Barra. In locations where Spar operates with a petrol station forecourt, petrol was also generally unavailable, forcing people to travel further than usual to fill up their cars or even rely on others to bring petrol in canisters from elsewhere.

All IT systems taken out

Spar said that all its IT systems, including staff emails, had been affected by the cyberattack, which occurred following a security breach.

The issues first surfaced on Sunday 5th December, with many branches not fully opened until the middle of the following week. As well as the main Spar stores themselves, concessions that operate and trade within Spar, often as a standalone trading name of the relevant parent company, were also unable to operate.

On top of Spar’s issues, a key distribution partner in the north of England, James Hall & Company, was also hit.

Commenting on the breach at the time, Spar said: “We are working to resolve this situation as quickly as possible.

“It is currently impacting stores’ ability to process card payments meaning that a number of Spar stores are currently closed to shoppers or only taking cash payments.

“We apologise for the inconvenience this is causing our customers and we are working as quickly as possible to resolve the situation.”

At present, there is not believed to be any broader security or fraud threat to Spar customers.

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