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British Airways

How Hackers Stole the Personal Details of 380K British Airways Passengers

How Hackers Stole the Personal Details of 380K British Airways Passengers
Jeff Edwards

A just released report from cybersecurity firm Securonix blames outdated British Airways security protocols and increasingly sophisticated skimming attacks for the breach of the airline’s mobile sites earlier this year. The hack compromised the personal and financial details of at least 380,000 customers over several weeks this summer.

A new report from the Threat Research Team at security analytics firm Securonix, reveals details of how hackers managed to compromise the sensitive financial and personal details of a minimum of 380,000 British Airways customers. Concurring with law enforcement officials, the report attributed responsibility for the attack to a shadowy hacker collective known as Magecart.

“The data breach suffered by British Airways earlier this year affected around 380,000 customers and resulted in the theft of customer data including personal and financial details,” according to the British Airways Breach: Magecart Formgrabbing Supply Chain Attack Detection report. “The attack was highly targeted and utilized customized JavaScript/digital card skimmers loaded from a compromised web server. Magecart, the malicious threat actor behind the breach, has impacted a number of other victims as part of the massive digital card skimming campaign, including Ticketmaster, Newegg, Cancer Research UK and A.P.C.”

Magecart, the hacker group reportedly responsible for the security breach has been tied to Russian organized crime syndicates. Authorities have already indicated that the group has used similar skimming attacks in the past.

Much of the Securonix report is incredibly technical, but the researchers explain in clear language that the incursion was likely a skimming attack in which malicious coded was added to the British Airways website using a compromised server. In this case, the group apparently used modified JavaScript to gain entry. The malicious JavaScript then replaced the original code allowing the hackers to access customers personal and financial details for weeks without being detected. According to the security experts, the scheme is a more sophisticated version of attacks previously attributed to the Magecart group.

The report also has bit of bad news for British Airways passengers who were not among the hundreds-of-thousands of customers initially alerted that their personal information had been compromised. According to the researchers, the hack was much worse than originally reported.

“In addition to the previously impacted 380,000 customers, hackers may have stolen personal data of 185,000 payment card holders not previously notified,” Securonix investigators report. “The compromised [personally identifiable information] likely included name, billing address, email address, and card payment information including card number, expiration date, and CVV. The potentially impacted customers were those making reward bookings between April 21 and July 28, 2018, and used a payment card.”

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