December 12, 2005 6:59 AM PST

Hackers grab donor info from U.K. charity

Hackers have stolen the personal details of thousands of donors to a Christian charity Web site and tried to extort money from the victims.

U.K. charity Aid to the Church in Need admitted Monday that its online security systems had been breached by hackers.

The charity does not yet know how much money the criminals have stolen, but the addresses of more than 2,000 online donors have been compromised, and the hackers have used these details to contact the benefactors directly to try and extract more money.

Neville Kyrke-Smith, national director at Aid to the Church in Need UK, said the charity is in a "state of shock."

"Apart from the obvious distress to benefactors, we're concerned that our charity identity has been stolen," Kyrke-Smith said in a statement. "However it's the beneficiaries--those who need the money the most--who will ultimately suffer. I urge all charities to regularly review their Web site security and make sure all software is up-to-date."

The security breach has prompted the U.K. Charity Commission to issue a warning for all charities to be on their guard against Internet fraud.

Andrew Hind, CEO at the Charity Commission, said in a statement, "All charities need to regularly review Web site security and make sure they stay ahead of the hackers and fraudsters."

Andy McCue of reported from London.


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