Morrisons Suffers Staff Payroll Data Theft
Data from supermarket chain Morrisons' staff payroll system, including bank account details, has been stolen and published on the internet, the company has confirmed.
In an email sent to staff and seen by Sky News, the company called it an "illegal theft" of data.
The information has since been taken off the website that published the details.
A data disk was also sent to a regional newspaper with the stolen data.
The theft included names, addresses and bank account details of an unspecified number of staff. It employs around 100,000 people.
The email warned that "this affects colleagues from all levels of the organisation".
Morrisons, which became aware of the theft on Thursday, said: "Initial investigations suggest that this theft was not the result of an external penetration of our systems.
"We can confirm there has been no loss of customer data and no colleague will be left financially disadvantaged."
So-called insider threats have become a serious concern for companies in recent years, due to the volume of data stored and its accessibility.
Sky News has confirmed that the data watchdog, the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO), has been alerted to the theft and may launch a probe.
An ICO spokesman said: 'We have been made aware of reports that Morrisons have suffered a potential data breach, and we will be making enquiries."
Morrisons, which is Britain's fourth biggest supermarket group, said it had called in police and cyber crime experts.
The criminal inquiry into the data theft from Bradford-based Morrisons is being led by West Yorkshire Police.
Detective Chief Inspector Nick Wallen said: "We are aware of the situation and are supporting Morrisons and their investigation into these matters."
It has also started communications with banks handling staff accounts and a credit rating agency, and has set up a helpline for employees.
The group has come under pressure recently over its performance in the ultra-competitive sector.
On Thursday, it launched a counter-attack in the supermarket price war after losing more than just ground to its rivals in its last financial year.
The chain, which has struggled amid strong challenges from discounters and because of its slow response to the online grocery and convenience markets, confirmed a pre-tax loss of £176m for 2013/14 after a profit of £879m in the previous 12 months.
Like-for-like sales fell 2.8% in the period, and its share price suffered a 10% drop on Thursday.