Cathay Pacific said late on Wednesday that a large amount of data, including names of passengers, birth dates, email addresses, phone numbers, and passports was exposed during the hack of the company’s information systems earlier in 2018.
CEO of the airline Rupert Hogg said the company was sorry for the concern the data breach may cause its passengers. The air carrier, based in Hong Kong, is now contacting the affected passengers it said.
It is the most recent embarrassing security breach to hit a major airline. Last month, British Airway announced that hackers had stolen details of payment cards of more than 380,000 of its clients.
The hackers who breached Cathay were able to access 27 credit card numbers, but not the security codes for each and another 403 payment cards numbers that had expired, said the airline in a prepared statement.
No evidence, added the airline, existed that any personal data was misused, saying that no passwords had been compromised.
Upon the news, shares of Cathay Pacific fell over 5%.
Cathay said suspicious activity was first discovered on its systems last March and it took immediate action containing the event and a cybersecurity company helped with its investigation.
In May the airline confirmed personal data was compromised and since has analyzed that data to determine which of its passengers had been affected.
Shares of Cathay slumped another 5% in trading on Thursday in Hong Kong. The company has told the Hong Kong police of the breach and has established a dedicated website (infosecurity.cathaypacific.com) as well as call center for clients who believe they might have been affected.
The airline announced that the combination of data hackers accessed varied from one passenger to another. It included over 860,000 passport numbers as well as over 245,000 identity card numbers for Hong Kong.
Prior to the announcement of the security breach, Cathay had proudly been ranked as the sixth best air carrier in the world by Skytrax, a firm based in London that provides advisory services to air carriers as well as airports.