By John Rabe | roblOX readerA Florida water company has been accused of cyberhacking, stealing millions of dollars from customers and then selling the stolen data for pennies on the dollar.
The National Water Quality Assurance Agency (NWQA) said Thursday it is accusing the Lakeland-based Hult International of violating the Safe Drinking Water Act, which bars businesses from stealing data.
It also accused the company of violating several state laws related to data breaches, including breach of consumer and employee privacy, unfair competition, unfair labor practice and false advertising, according to a press release.
The breach occurred last year, the agency said, and resulted in a loss of more than $20 million.
Hult was one of nine companies that received a total of $9.3 million in federal money for data breaches.
Hult said in a statement Thursday that it has not breached any customers, and the company has an “extremely robust data protection program” to protect customers’ data.
“Hult International has a robust data security program in place to protect our customers’ personal information,” it said.
“Hult does not engage in unauthorized data mining or unlawful activities.”
The companies that are under investigation include Florida-based Watercraft, Florida-Based First Energy and Florida- based Metromedia.
The companies say they are cooperating with the investigation.
Hulse said in the press release that it believes the information was stolen from customers who were not aware of the breach.
The company said it has since taken steps to improve its cybersecurity, including setting up a new internal cyber team to better monitor and prevent breaches.
The company is also in the process of developing new privacy policies and safeguards that include an opt-in policy to allow customers to opt out of data collection, the release said.