Hong Kong based, Cathay Pacific Airways has become the target of the world’s biggest airline data breach after a hacker accessed credit card, passport and personal details of around 9.4 million customers.
The airline came to know about this breach while conducting online security processes. But, they reported this incident on Thursday, almost 7 months after the hack was done.
While passports, addresses and emails were exposed, flight safety wasn’t compromised and there was no evidence that information has been misused, however, there are still no details revealing the origin of the attack.
Cathay Pacific has said the data stolen included names, nationalities, birth dates, phone numbers, addresses, passport, identity card numbers and expired credit card numbers, among other information & said no passwords were compromised. They have been contacting customers to advise them on how to protect themselves.
Cathay’s CEO, Mr. Rupert Hogg has released an apology statement saying that they are sorry for any inconvenience that may be caused due to this data breach. The statement also said that the airline acted immediately to contain the event, commence a thorough investigation with the assistance of a leading cybersecurity firm, and further strengthened their IT security measures.
Hong Kong’s privacy commissioner expressed serious concern over the leak and said the office will initiate a compliance check with the airline. A dedicated website, infosecurity.cathaypacific.com, provides information about the event and what affected passengers should do next.
Some local lawmakers criticized Cathay for taking seven months to reveal the breach. Lam Cheuk-ting, a member of the Legislative Council’s security committee, told reporters that many people in Hong Kong are angry and the airline should’ve taken the initiative the very first day it found out.
Cathay’s Chief Customer and Commercial Officer Mr.Paul Loo said the airline wanted to have an accurate grasp of the situation and didn’t wish to “create unnecessary panic”.
Impacting more people than the population of Cathay Pacific’s home base of Hong Kong, the hack is in another league as compared to breaches reported by British Airways and Delta Air Lines Inc. this year.
Upon the release of this news, the shares of Cathay Pacific plummeted by almost 6.8 %, causing the airline’s market value to drop by $361 million.