The UK Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) fined British Airways with £183 million for failing to protect the personal information of roughly 500,000 customers during 2018 security breach.
“Following an extensive investigation the ICO has issued a notice of its intention to fine British Airways £183.39M for infringements of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).” reads the statement published by the British ICO.
“The proposed fine relates to a cyber incident notified to the ICO by British Airways in September 2018. This incident in part involved user traffic to the British Airways website being diverted to a fraudulent site. Through this false site, customer details were harvested by the attackers. Personal data of approximately 500,000 customers were compromised in this incident, which is believed to have begun in June 2018.”
The fine of £183.39 million is the equivalent of 1.5% of the British Airways turnover for its 2017 financial year, however, it is less than the possible maximum fine of 4% under the EU GDPR.
In September 2018, personal and payment card information of British Airways customers
Initially, the company reported that the data breach exposed personal details and credit-card numbers of up to 380,000 customers, later British Airways airline admitted that the incident was worse than initially thought. According to IAG firm that owns the airline, further 185,000 customers had impacted in the security breach.
Hackers accessed personal and financial data of additional 77,000 payment card holders, including name, billing address, email address, card payment information.
Additional 108,000 customers’ personal details without card verification value have also been compromised.
The hackers compromised the official website (ba.com) and British Airways mobile app between August 21 and September 5 and stole data of customers that booked a flight.
This script records keystrokes from customers and sends them to a server controlled by the attacker.
According to the security firm RiskIQ, the MageCart used a customized version of the script in the attack against British Airways to remain under the radar. The hackers used a dedicated infrastructure for this specific attack against the airline.
According to ICO, British Airways’ customers were impacted by the hack due to “poor security arrangements” at the company.
“The ICO’s investigation has found that a variety of information was compromised by poor security arrangements at the company, including log in, payment card, and travel booking details as well name and address information.” continues the ICO.
“People’s personal data is just that – personal. When an organization fails to protect it from loss, damage or theft, it is more than an inconvenience,” Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham said.
“That’s why the law is clear – when you are entrusted with personal data, you must look after it. Those that don’t will face scrutiny from my office to check they have taken appropriate steps to protect fundamental privacy rights.”
However, ICO appreciated the collaboration offered by British Airways to the investigators.
In response to the ICO announcement, the company expressed its disappointment for the penalty.
“We have found no evidence of fraud/fraudulent activity on accounts linked to the theft. We apologize to our customers for any inconvenience this event caused.”
What will happen now? The company has 28 days to appeal the penalty.
(SecurityAffairs – data breach, hacking)