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British low-cost airline carrier based at London Luton Airport – Easyjet, confirmed on May 19, 2020, that sensitive personal data of nine million customers from around the world had been exposed in a data breach.
Budget airline easyJet was aware of the data breach, which revealed personal information of nine million customers and the credit card information of over 2,200 customers, in January. News of the cyber attack revealed that the attacker or attackers had access to the data of customers who booked flights from 17 October 2019 to 4 March 2020, according to The Independent.
The two people with knowledge of the investigation, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the attack appeared to be part of a series by suspected Chinese hackers aimed at the bulk theft of travel records and other data. An EasyJet spokeswoman did not respond to questions about who was responsible for the attack, Reuters reported.
EasyJet first became aware of the attack in January. It told the BBC that it was only able to notify customers whose credit card details were stolen in early April. “This was a highly sophisticated attacker. It took time to understand the scope of the attack and to identify who had been impacted,” the airline told the BBC. Stolen credit card data included the three digital security code – known as the CVV number – on the back of the card itself. EasyJet added that it had gone public now in order to warn the nine million customers whose email addresses had been stolen to be wary of phishing attacks, according to BBC.
EasyJet did not immediately give details of how the breach occurred, but said it had “closed off this unauthorised access” and reported the incident to the National Cyber Security Centre and the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), the data regulator. The breach is one of the largest to affect any company in the UK, and raises the possibility of easyJet paying a large fine at a time when the coronavirus pandemic has put it under severe financial pressure. British Airways was fined £183m in July 2019 after hackers stole the personal information of half a million customers. In the same month, the hotels group Marriott was fined £99.2m for a breach that exposed the data of 339 million customers worldwide, The Guardian wrote.
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