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Virgin Active Goes Offline After Being Targeted By Cyber Criminals

Virgin Active Goes Offline After Being Targeted By Cyber Criminals. Virgin Active SA says it was forced to go offline after being targeted by sophisticated cyber criminals. Forensic experts are probing the extent of the attack to determine if any information was compromised.

The gym group said it had become aware of the cyber attack on Friday and immediately started working with cyber security experts to address the threat. “While we take the necessary steps to protect data, we have been targeted by sophisticated cybercriminals. As a precautionary measure, we have taken all systems offline while we resolve this,” it said in a statement.

Virgin Active is a chain of health clubs in South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Italy, Australia, Singapore, Thailand and the United Kingdom.  Virgin Active was founded in 1999. Their first club opened in Preston, Lancashire that year. Initially headquartered in Milton Keynes, in 2013 headquarters were moved to the Barbican in London leaving a small call centre in Milton Keynes which closed in 2018.

 In South Africa the company bought the assets of the ‘Health and Racquet Club’ chain after the latter’s parent company, Leisurenet, had been placed in liquidation in October 2000 for R319.6 million (approximately £24.5m). The South African company also runs Virgin Life Care.

“There is currently no indication that any data has been removed from our systems, however we urge all stakeholders to remain vigilant of any suspicious activity online. We are working with law enforcement and have notified the Information Regulator as a precaution. The security of our systems and data is a top priority for us and we are doing everything we can to rectify the situation. We will provide any necessary further updates as soon as we are able to do so.” The company told Sowetan Live.

On 16 April 2015, it was reported that Virgin Group and their private equity backers had sold 80% of Virgin Active to the South African investment firm Brait, owned by the billionaire Christo Wiese. The sale price was £682 million for an 80% stake, valuing the business at £1.3 billion, including debt, and the transaction was completed in July 2015. The company continues to operate under the Virgin Active brand.

By Thomas Chiothamisi

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