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Record penalty imposed on British Airways for data leakage in connection with a cyber attack by hackers

British Airways was fined a record £ 20m (equivalent to around PLN 100m) for a 2018 data leak. Cybercriminals pretending to be a company website extorted the data of over 400,000 passengers, the BBC website reported.

Initially, the British Personal Data Bureau (ICO) imposed a fine on the carrier in the amount of 183 million pounds (approximately PLN 900 million), which accounted for 1.5 percent. BA global turnover in 2017

However, the ICO said it took into account the “economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic”. Despite this, it is still the largest penalty ever imposed by the British data protection office, the BBC reported.


The cyberattack on the British Airways system took place at the turn of August and September 2018. The criminals redirected customers to a fake version of the carrier’s website and phased out information. The intercepted data included first and last names, e-mail addresses and credit card details along with CVV security codes.

The carrier found out about the attack two months later as a result of a routine inspection and immediately informed the ICO. The investigation revealed that British Airways lacked adequate security measures – such as multi-level customer identification. The ICO indicated that this type of security was available in the system used by the carrier at that time – we learn from the BBC.

– When an organization makes bad decisions on issues related to the protection of personal data, it has a significant impact on people’s lives. The law now provides the tools to persuade companies to better protect their data and use the latest security measures, said UK Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denman.

British Airways said customers were immediately informed of the cyberattack. “We are pleased that the ICO noted that we have made significant security improvements to our system since the attack and have fully cooperated in the investigation,” emphasized a BA spokesman.

The crisis and the change of the president

British airlines, like the vast majority of air carriers, are experiencing great difficulties due to the coronavirus pandemic, which has drastically reduced the demand for air travel.

British Airways CEO Alex Cruz was immediately replaced by former Aer Lingus CEO Sean Doyle on Monday, said the owner of both airlines, the International Airlines Group (IAG) consortium.

“We are now going through the worst crisis in our industry and I am convinced that these internal promotions will ensure that IAG is in a good position to emerge stronger,” said IAG new president Luis Gallego, who replaced retiring Willie Walsh a month ago.

He added that Cruz “worked tirelessly to modernize the line” and “led the line through a particularly difficult period and secured restructuring contracts with the vast majority of workers.”

It was this restructuring, and more precisely how it was carried out, that was the cause of harsh criticism from both workers and British MEPs. British Airways intends to reduce employment by 13,000 in total. people, of which over 8,000 have already lost their jobs, and lower the salary of others.

As unions refused to agree to cuts, Cruz warned that he would have to fire workers and re-hire them – on new, worse terms. In September, however, he assured members of the transport committee that the deal with the unions was on the right track, and that restructuring was necessary because British Airways were struggling to survive.

However, the entire four-year driving period of Cruz British Airways was turbulent. Last September, the airline’s pilots launched their first-ever strike, leading to the cancellation of 2,325 flights and costing BA £ 124m. Airlines also experienced a number of costly IT issues, including an incident in 2017 that left 75,000 people stranded at airports. passengers, which cost the company £ 80 million.

Additionally, the austerity measures taken by Cruz had a negative impact on the level of customer satisfaction, as a result of which there were accusations against the management board that in the name of a quick improvement of financial results, it was devaluing the brand.

The new head of the airline, Sean Doyle, worked at British Airways for 20 years, before becoming head of the Irish airline Aer Lingus two years ago. Apart from British Airways and Aer Lingus, the Spanish Iberia belongs to the IAG.


Main photo source: Shutterstock

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