Menu
Cathay Pacific faces probe over massive data breach

Cathay Pacific faces probe over massive data breach

Airline has faced criticism for the seven-month delay in revealing breach

Credit: Dreamstime

Hong Kong's privacy commissioner will launch a compliance investigation into Cathay Pacific Airways over a data breach involving 9.4 million passengers, saying the carrier may have violated privacy rules.

The airline has faced criticism for the seven-month delay in its October revelation of the breach in the data, which it said had been accessed without authorisation, following suspicious activity in its network in March.

"There are reasonable grounds to believe there may be a contravention of a requirement under the law," Hong Kong's Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data, Stephen Wong, said in a statement.

"The compliance investigation is going to examine in detail, amongst others, the security measures taken by Cathay Pacific to safeguard its customers' personal data and the airline's data retention policy and practice," he added.

It will also cover Cathay's fully owned subsidiary, Hong Kong Dragon Airlines Ltd, or Dragon Air, some of whose passengers were affected by the breach.

A Cathay Pacific spokeswoman said in an email to Reuters that the airline was studying the statement and would "continue to cooperate fully with the authorities."

The privacy watchdog said it had received 89 complaints related to the cyber leak.

In addition to 860,000 passport numbers and about 245,000 Hong Kong identity card numbers, the hackers accessed 403 expired credit card numbers and 27 credit card numbers with no card verification value (CVV), Cathay said.

It was not immediately clear who was behind the personal data breach or what the information might be used for, but Cathay said there was no evidence so far that any personal information had been misused.

Under Hong Kong law, the privacy commissioner can call witnesses, enter premises and hold public hearings in the investigation, which will check if Cathay violated any requirement of the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance.

The controversy has spurred calls from politicians and privacy advocates for Hong Kong to revamp its laws to make the reporting of such potential data breaches mandatory.

Cathay's share price initially plunged to its lowest since June 2009 after the scandal but has rebounded and recovered all its losses. The stocks were up 1.7 per cent on Tuesday afternoon.

The data breach comes amid an airline turnaround to cut costs and boost revenue, after back-to-back years of losses, so as to better compete with rivals from the Middle East, mainland China and budget airlines.

In August, Cathay Pacific posted a narrower half-year loss on a strong rise in airfares and cargo rates and flagged expectations for a better second half, despite economic headwinds from mounting U.S.-China trade tension.

(Reporting by Hong Kong newsroom and Donny Kwok; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)


Follow Us

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags cyber securityCathay Pacific Airways

Featured

Slideshows

Reseller News welcomes industry figures for 2019 Hall of Fame lunch

Reseller News welcomes industry figures for 2019 Hall of Fame lunch

Reseller News welcomed 2018 inductees - Chris Simpson, Kendra Ross and Phill Patton - to the third running of the Reseller News Hall of Fame lunch, held at the French Cafe in Auckland. The inductees discussed the changing landscape of the technology industry in New Zealand, while outlining ways to attract a new breed of players to the ecosystem. Photos by Gino Demeer.

Reseller News welcomes industry figures for 2019 Hall of Fame lunch
Upcoming tech talent share insights at inaugural Emerging Leaders Forum 2019

Upcoming tech talent share insights at inaugural Emerging Leaders Forum 2019

The channel came together for the inaugural Reseller News Emerging Leaders Forum in New Zealand, created to provide a program that identifies, educates and showcases the upcoming talent of the ICT industry. Hosted as a half day event, attendees heard from industry champions as keynoters and panelists talked about future opportunities and leadership paths and joined mentoring sessions with members of the ICT industry Hall of Fame. The forum concluded with 30 Under 30 Tech Awards across areas of Sales, Entrepreneur, Marketing, Management, Technical and Human Resources. Photos by Gino Demeer.

Upcoming tech talent share insights at inaugural Emerging Leaders Forum 2019
Show Comments