Baroness Harding steps down from TalkTalk

February 1, 2017 | 10:32

Tags: #baroness-harding #breach #data-breach #dido-harding #elizabeth-denham #insecurity #isp #security #service-provider #tristia-harrison

Companies: #ico #talktalk

TalkTalk is getting a shake-up at the top, following the announcement that Baroness Dido Harding is to step down as the company's chief executive from May this year.

Chief executive at the company for seven years, Baroness Harding's tenure at the company was not without controversy. Two major security breaches in 2015 while under her watch were bad enough, before it transpired that the company was at the very least ignoring industry best practices and at worst breaking UK and European laws on the protection of consumer data. 'It wasn't encrypted, nor are you legally required to encrypt it,' Baroness Harding famously - and entirely inaccurately - said in the wake of the second breach. 'We have complied with all of our legal obligations in terms of storing of financial information.'

The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO), however, disagreed with Baroness Harding's abdication of responsibility for the protection of customer data. 'TalkTalk’s failure to implement the most basic cyber security measures allowed hackers to penetrate TalkTalk’s systems with ease,' said Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham in her findings prior to levying a record £400,000 fine against the company. 'Yes hacking is wrong, but that is not an excuse for companies to abdicate their security obligations. TalkTalk should and could have done more to safeguard its customer information. It did not and we have taken action.'

Now, four months after the ICO ruling, Baroness Harding is out. 'After seven extraordinary and fulfilling years, during which we have transformed TalkTalk’s customer experience and laid the foundations for long term growth, I’ve decided it’s time for me to start handing over the reins at TalkTalk and focus more on my activities in public service,' Baroness Harding claimed in a statement on the matter, pointedly not mentioning the comments made in defiance of the facts to the press in the wake of the hack nor the resulting fine from ICO.

Baroness Harding is to be replaced as chief executive by Tristia Harrison, the present managing director of TalkTalk's consumer arm, while Charles Bligh, MD of the business arm, will become its chief operating officer. Former Dixons Carphone chairperson Charles Dunstone, meanwhile, is to shift from non-executive to executive chair.
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