Data-breached Guntrader website calls in liquidators, is reborn as Guntrader 2 Ltd

Viscount still helms new firm – while since-deleted posts on firm's Facebook page enrage users

A British firearms sales website's owner has called in the liquidators as his company faces data breach lawsuits – while continuing to trade from a newly incorporated business.

Guntrader Ltd entered a creditors' voluntary liquidation on 22 October. Its director, Viscount Alexander Andover, was appointed on 21 October as the sole head of a company incorporated barely a month previously and whose initial name was Guntrader Ltd (see Companies House filings here).

Guntrader's website is still operating today. At the time of writing, the Ts&Cs indicated that it is now operated by Limited (named on the page as company number 13604374).

There is no reference anywhere to the disastrous July 2021 data breach in which 100,000 UK gun owners' home addresses were culled from the site's databases and dumped online. Informed sources suggested to The Register that a SQL vulnerability or misconfiguration may have been to blame. Ltd – incorporated on 6 September – was renamed Guntrader Media Ltd on 27 October. Meanwhile, Guntrader users who filed lawsuits against the original Guntrader Ltd company are scrambling to find out whether their court cases will survive a potential liquidation.

Multiple Register readers shared a message from law firm Hayes Connor sent this morning which said:

We have very recently been made aware that Guntrader are now in liquidation and joint liquidators have been appointed to deal with this. We are also aware a new company Guntrader 2 has been set up. Unfortunately as a result of Guntrader going into liquidation the prospects of recovering damages against them is at risk.

Hayes Connor's legal director, Richard Forrest, declined to comment when approached by The Register.

The Information Commissioner's Office confirmed that its investigation into the breach is continuing in spite of the liquidation process.

An insolvency practitioner to whom The Register granted anonymity because he wasn't speaking as a company representative opined that legal claimants might be able to ask Guntrader's liquidators to treat them as creditors.

"95 per cent of insolvency practitioners would say 'You're not a creditor yet but I'll treat you as if you're a creditor anyway'," he told us. "They should get copies of the creditors report and the statement of affairs."

The creditors' report will contain details of Guntrader's profit and loss account, showing exactly how much cash the business had. Its last accounts filed with Companies House in November 2020 [PDF] showed net assets of £600,000 – and a director's loan of £126,289.

Facebook posts draw fury

Someone operating Guntrader's Facebook page posted some thoughts about the liquidation in a since-deleted post that was captured by The Register.

Guntrader's post blaming 'compensation culture' for liquidation of its original company

Click to enlarge

The post's text read:

Due to a small number of people wanting compensation because their data leaked onto the internet, action had to be taken. Sadly with this compensation culture could not survive these claims so was forced into liquidation. Guntrader Media Ltd has taken over from Ltd, and slowly but surely we are getting sorted. A new revamped and revitalised guntrader will be launched very soon, from the tireless team at guntrader! Thank you to all those who have been far more understanding of the hacking dilemmas of running a web business today, have not caused us any problems, and have been nothing but supportive.

In the comments under this post, a person with access to Guntrader's Facebook page appeared to suggest that its insurers had declined to pay out after the data breach.

A comment posted by on the Guntrader facebook page

"Surely you had insurance," asked one user, to which the page (or someone operating it) appears to have replied: "I thought we did but it turns out wit [sic] was not quite correct :("

Astonished Facebook-using customers tore into the business, with one posting: "Maybe delete this post and reword it, do you not understand that the breach caused worry and stress for many of us! This comment paints a picture of poor taste on your behalf."

A person who answered Guntrader's phone number to The Register today insisted they were not authorised to make public statements on behalf of the business. Our request for a callback from a responsible manager has not been answered.

We just want accountability

One of the people suing Guntrader, Andy Lowrey, told The Register today that he wanted a meaningful acknowledgement of wrongdoing by Guntrader, which has consistently downplayed the data leak and its impact on the tight-knit UK firearms community.

"Although everyone probably says this, I'm not actually interested in the monetary side," he said. "Aware that payouts are rare and usually very small. Instead I was more bothered about the lack of contrition or ownership around the situation."

He added: "This latest development appears doubly galling as the company will likely continue without learning any lessons or needing to change shoddy business practices. The GT website continues as if nothing has happened. How are today's users protected?"

Guntrader Ltd was hit by one of the most serious data thefts in UK history, judging by impact, in July 2021. Personal details of UK firearm and shotgun owners, including postal addresses, phone numbers, GPS-derived location information and timestamped device user-agent strings harvested through its website, were stolen from the site's servers and dumped online by criminals. This attracted the attention of an animal rights activist who reformatted it for easy pinpointing of Guntrader users' home addresses on Google Earth.

The breach continues to pose a security threat to licensed firearms owners, whose first golden rule is security through obscurity. Home Office guidelines state that only approved British Standard gunsafes are installed in concealed locations, though half the battle for a burglar wanting to steal a gun is knowing which homes to target. At least one burglary has been linked to the Guntrader data leak.

The next moves for Guntrader, the ICO, and victims of the data leak (including those suing Guntrader) will be instructive. If Guntrader successfully defends itself against the lawsuits, then the only potential hurdle for it lies in the hands of the ICO. If the ICO decides to drop its probe, nobody will be sanctioned.

Police are continuing to investigate the Guntrader breach, with rumours reaching The Register that the National Crime Agency took an interest in the case over summer. Shooting community efforts to convince police to treat it as a counter-terrorism investigation have failed. ®

Narrower topics

Other stories you might like

  • Apple wins Epic court ruling: Devs will pay up for now as legal case churns on

    Previous injunction that ordered company to allow non-Apple payments systems is suspended

    Apple will not be required to implement third-party in-app payments systems for its App Store by 9 December, after a federal appeals court temporarily suspended the initial ruling on Wednesday.

    As part of its ongoing legal spat with Epic, a judge from the Northern District Court of California said Apple wasn’t a monopoly, but agreed it’s ability to swipe up to a 30 per cent fee in sales processed in iOS apps was uncompetitive. Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers ordered an injunction, giving the iGiant 90 days to let developers add links or buttons in their apps to direct users to third-party purchasing systems.

    Those 90 days were set to end on 9 December. If developers were allowed to process financial transactions using external systems they wouldn’t have to hand over their profits to Apple, they argued. When Apple tried to file for a motion to stay, which would pause the injunction until it filed an appeal, Rogers denied its request.

    Continue reading
  • Meg Whitman – former HP and eBay CEO – nominated as US ambassador to Kenya

    Donated $110K to Democrats in recent years

    United States president Joe Biden has announced his intention to nominate former HPE and eBay CEO Meg Whitman as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Republic of Kenya.

    The Biden administration's announcement of the planned nomination reminds us that Whitman has served as CEO of eBay, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, and Quibi. Whitman also serves on the boards of Procter & Gamble, and General Motors.

    The announcement doesn't remind readers that Whitman has form as a Republican politician – she ran for governor of California in 2010, then backed the GOP's Mitt Romney in his 2008 and 2012 bids for the presidency. She later switched political allegiance and backed the presidential campaigns of both Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden.

    Continue reading
  • Ex-Qualcomm Snapdragon chief turns CEO at AI chip startup MemryX

    Meet the new boss

    A former executive leading Qualcomm's Snapdragon computing platforms has departed the company to become CEO at an AI chip startup.

    Keith Kressin will lead product commercialization for MemryX, which was founded in 2019 and makes memory-intensive AI chiplets.

    The company is now out of stealth mode and will soon commercially ship its AI chips to non-tech customers. The company was testing early generations of its chips with industries including auto and robotics.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021