British Airways fined £20m over data breach which affected more than 400,000 customers


British Airways fined £20m by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) over data breach which affected more than 400,000 customers.

An ICO investigation found the airline was processing “a significant amount of personal data without adequate security measures in place”.

This failure broke data protection law and, subsequently, BA was the subject of a cyber-attack during 2018, which it didn’t detect for more than two months.

The £20m is considerably less than the £183m that the ICO originally said it intended to issue back in 2019.

In June 2019 the ICO issued BA with a notice of intent to fine.

As part of the regulatory process the ICO considered both representations from BA and the economic impact of Covid-19 on their business before setting a final penalty.

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.”

The cyber attacker is believed to have potentially accessed the personal data of approximately 429,612 customers and staff. This included names, addresses, payment card numbers and CVV numbers of 244,000 BA customers.

Other details thought to have been accessed include the combined card and CVV numbers of 77,000 customers and card numbers only for 108,000 customers.

Usernames and passwords of BA employee and administrator accounts as well as usernames and PINs of up to 612 BA Executive Club accounts were also potentially accessed.

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Tara Rippin

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