Cathay Pacific suffered from a cyberattack for three months earlier this year, and it turns out that the problem was way worse than the airline had initially admitted; not only was data from millions of customers obtained, but the attack was so sophisticated that it required a dedicated team just to contain it.
When Cathay Pacific was hacked in March, the airline said only that it saw suspicious activity on the computer system. The hack ended up obtaining customer data for about 9.4 million customers, and it turns out that the operation was far more significant that anyone expected.
On Monday, in a written submission to lawmakers in Hong Kong, the airline said the hack was actually a sophisticated, intense attack that lasted more than three months. In March, April and May, the airline had a team of internal and external security experts focused solely on containing the hack and preventing further damage. The hackers were able to repeatedly break into the airline’s state-of-the-art infrastructure system, one that took three years and about $128 million to build.
“Cathay was subject to further attacks which were at their most intense in March, April and May but continued thereafter,” the airline said in a statement reported by the South China Morning Post. “These ongoing attacks meant that internal and external IT security resources had to remain focused on containment and prevention.”
Two investigations are underway in Hong Kong – one by the police and one by a privacy group.
“The investigation [into the hack] was complex, longer than what we would have wished, and we would have liked to have been able to provide this information sooner,” the airline said in the release.