British Airways fined £20m for huge customer data breach

Airline British Airways has been fined £20m for failing to protect the personal and financial details of more than 400,000 customers.

It follows an investigation by the Information Commissioner’s Office (IOC), after the airline was the subject to a cyber-attack  in the summer of 2018  and which it did not detect for more than two months.

While the biggest fine issued by the IOC, it was originally planned to be £183m.

The attacker is believed to have potentially accessed the personal data of approximately 429,612 customers and staff. This included names, addresses, payment card numbers and CVV numbers of 244,000 BA customers.

Other details thought to have been accessed include the combined card and CVV numbers of 77,000 customers and card numbers only for 108,000 customers.

Usernames and passwords of BA employee and administrator accounts as well as usernames and PINs of up to 612 BA Executive Club accounts were also potentially accessed.

ICO investigators found that the arline ought to have identified weaknesses in its security and resolved them with security measures that were available at the time.

Addressing these security issues would have prevented the 2018 cyber-attack being carried out in this way, investigators concluded.

ICO investigators found that BA did not detect the attack on 22 June 2018 themselves but were alerted by a third party more than two months afterwards on 5 September. Once they became aware BA acted promptly and notified the ICO.

It said is not clear whether or when BA would have identified the attack themselves. This was considered to be a severe failing because of the number of people affected and because any potential financial harm could have been more significant

Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham said: “People entrusted their personal details to BA and BA failed to take adequate measures to keep those details secure.

“Their failure to act was unacceptable and affected hundreds of thousands of people, which may have caused some anxiety and distress as a result. That’s why we have issued BA with a £20m fine – our biggest to date.

“When organisations take poor decisions around people’s personal data, that can have a real impact on people’s lives. The law now gives us the tools to encourage businesses to make better decisions about data, including investing in up-to-date security.”

The fine is the biggest ever issued by the IOC. It  said since the attack, BA has made considerable improvements to its IT security.

In a statement British Airways said: “We alerted customers as soon as we became aware of the criminal attack on our systems in 2018 and are sorry we fell short of our customers’ expectations.

“We are pleased the ICO recognises that we have made considerable improvements to the security of our systems since the attack and that we fully co-operated with its investigation.”

BusinessLive – West Midlands

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