Nearly 400,000 customers who booked flights with British Airways between August 21 and September 5 may have had their personal and financial details hacked as part of a “sophisticated, malicious criminal attack,” the company’s chairman said on Friday.
“We discovered that something had happened but we didn’t know what it was [on Wednesday evening]. So overnight, teams were trying to figure out the extent of the attack,” Alex Cruz, British Airways’ chairman, told the BBC. “The first thing was to find out if it was something serious and who it affected or not. The moment that actual customer data had been compromised, that’s when we began immediate communication to our customers.”
The airline said that the hack affected those who booked or made changes to their itinerary on the carrier’s website, ba.com, and through its mobile application.
British Airways advised customers to change their account passwords and told affected customers to call their bank and “follow their advice.”
“Click the Forgotten Pin/Password link on the top right-hand corner of the ba.com homepage. We recommend you choose a unique password that you do not use for any other online account,” the airline said, according to The Telegraph.
Cruz said that customers who were affected by the worst attack to ever hit the company’s website and mobile application would be compensated.
“We are 100 percent committed to compensate them, period. We are committed to working with any customer who may have been financially affected by this attack, and we will compensate them for any financial hardship that they may have suffered,” Cruz told the BBC.
The airline said that travel and passport details were not leaked, but that hackers could have gained access to credit card numbers, expiry dates, security codes, names and street or email addresses.
This isn’t the first issue that British Airways customers have had to face in recent months. At least 7,000 passengers were affected when the airline was forced to cancel dozens of flights to and from Heathrow Airport in London following an IT issue in July.
Over 2,000 passengers had their tickets canceled after British Airways mistakenly sold them for the wrong price in June. Flights to Tel Aviv and Dubai, which would usually cost more than $250, were being sold for a little over $1 in what the airline called an “exceptionally rare error.”