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TalkTalk CEO: ‘It's too early to tell real impact of cyber attack on the business’

The cyber attack on TalkTalk will cost up to £35m but it’s too early to tell what the long-term impact on the business and brand is, according to chief executive Dido Harding.

The one-off costs will go some way to resolving the immediate damage caused by last month’s hack, which saw more than 15,600 bank account numbers and sort codes stolen. The costs are part of TalkTalk’s bid to instil confidence in the business, which has been hacked three times in the last 12 months.

It’s already tempered some aspects of its advertising to try and move the brand out of the firing line and is now offering free upgrades of services to customers. And while Harding claims early responses from customers to these efforts are “encouraging”, she admitted that there is still much to do.

“In all honestly, it’s too early to tell the longer term impact [of the hack],” she told the BBC this morning (11 November). “What I can tell you is that the early signs are that majority of our customers think that we’re doing the right things by being open and honest with them about how we’re dealing with this criminal event. I think in the end our customers will judge us over the course of the next few months, and not by mine or anyone else’s words right now.”

TalkTalk has been polling customers in the wake of the attack to gauge their opinions and Harding said that many have contacted her directly to express their satisfaction with their response. The telecommunications firm has spent more than a third on security over the last three years.

The announcement comes as the business revealed positive revenue for the first half of the year. Total revenue in the period jumped 4.7 per cent to £912m in the period, although high marketing costs to spur that growth pulled profits down to £90m from £110m as margins dropped to 9.9 per cent from 12.6 per cent.

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