By: José Niño
The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) reported that thousands of names and addresses of British customers at a prominent website where shotguns and rifles are sold had been published on the dark web after an alleged security breach.
Guntrader.uk informed the BBC that it caught wind of the breach recently and notified the Information Commissioner's Office of the attack.
British law enforcement and the National Crime Agency are currently investigating this online security breach. One gun owner impacted by the breach fears that his family could be targeted by criminals.
We shouldn’t forget that gun ownership is highly regulated in the U.K. Thus, firearms are difficult to obtain and consequently fetch a high price on the black market.
The gun owner in question, who requested anonymity, said in correspondence with the BBC that the breach "…seriously compromises my security arrangements for my firearms and puts me in a situation where me and my family could be targeted and in danger.”
According to Guntrader.uk, 100,000 customers’ records were stolen but “no information relating to gun ownership or the location of firearms was taken.” British gun owners and gun-related organizations, however, are going the extra mile by advising individuals with firearms to exercise caution in light of this sensitive incident.
The British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) called on its members "to be vigilant around home security" following the breach. According to a statement it released on its website, BASC announced that personal data had been put on display "on a hackers' website."
"Our advice to members would be to check home security and be extra vigilant. Make sure all firearms are appropriately locked away and make sure buildings are kept secure", the organization wrote.
The South West Regional Cyber Crime Unit (SWRCCU) is spearheading the investigation effort concerning the breach. The National Crime Agency is helping the SWRCCU in this effort. The NCA told the BBC the following: “We are working closely with the organisation [guntrader] and the SWRCCU to better understand the incident and manage any potential impact.”
Guntrader's Simon Baseley informed the BBC that the company urged its users to exercise caution and stay vigilant. Additionally, Baseley said that the company was cooperating with law enforcement agencies to massage the entire situation.
Baseley said this was the first time in two decades that the company’s security had been successfully penetrated.
"All the indications currently are that the breach was neither political nor commercial as there has been no attempt to extort money from either guntrader.uk or its users, or make other capital from the theft," Baseley said.
While Second Amendment lovers have every right to complain about the present state of gun politics in the US, things are significantly worse across the pond.
There is no concept of the Second Amendment in the UK. The island nation is notorious not only for its draconian gun laws, but also has suspect policing practices where more police resources are allocated towards fighting so-called “hate speech” as opposed to going after real criminals.
This recent security breach illustrates the many threats gun owners face in our digital age. Non-state and state actors alike can undermine gun rights through cyberattacks that expose lawful gun owners’ private information.
Like most activities online, gun owners should always mind their Ps & Qs when doing online shopping. In thoroughly anti-gun jurisdictions like the UK, they must be doubly concerned due to how misplaced most of the ruling class’s priorities are with regards to crime and public order.
Americans should be thankful they have strong legal and cultural traditions that treat bearing arms as a civil liberty that cannot be infringed by state or corporate actors. Nevertheless, complacency is never an option when confronting the forces of civilian disarmament, who will use every trick in the book to transgress on our right to bear arms. Winning this fight will require eternal vigilance and proactive measures to secure our freedoms.
José Niño is a freelance writer based in Austin, Texas. Sign up for his mailing list here. Contact him via Facebook, Twitter, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Get his e-book, The 10 Myths of Gun Control, here.