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British Airways handed £20m for data hack

British Airways has been fined £20m after a data hack that took place two years ago.

The airline was subject to a data breach in 2018 but did not detect the hack for more than two months.

It has led to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) handing the BA its biggest ever fine after it ruled that the company had failed to protect the personal and financial details of more than 40,000 customers.

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.”

In total the cyber attack is believed to have accessed the personal data of 429,612 customers and staff.

The data included the names, addresses, payment card numbers (including the three digits on the back of cards) of 77,000 customers. A further 108,000 customers’ cards details were also revealed on their own.

Usernames and passwords of British Airways’ employee and administrator accounts, as well as the usernames and PINs of up to 612 of the airline’s Executive Club accounts, were also potentially accessed.

However, the airline seems to have got off more lightly than it expected.

British Airways announced in July last year that the ICO was proposing to issue a fine of more than £183m. This is nine times more than the £20m it has been fined.

The ICO said it considered “representations from BA and the economic impact of Covid-19 on their business” before setting the final penalty.

A British Airways spokeswoman 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.”

Published in Insider -