In response to specialists, breaches of Air India information pose a litigation threat for the airline

The breach of passenger data at Air India could pose a litigation risk for the airline that could further delay the privatization process, experts warn. The national airline must give priority to efforts to contain the damage caused by the cyberattack by informing passengers of possible steps to take to prevent fraud.

In a press release, the airline said its passenger processing system, provided by multinational information technology company SITA, was the target of a sophisticated cyberattack on February 25. Almost 45 lakh “affected persons” were recorded over a period of 10 years between August 2011 and February 2021 were affected worldwide, including passengers from other airlines such as Singapore Airlines, Lufthansa, Cathay Pacific and United Airlines. The attack took place on the SITA servers in its data center in Atlanta, USA.

“One important impact could be that the current privatization process is slow, as there is always a fear of unquantified process risks. You (the government) may be able to segregate past and future liabilities, but this opens up a new avenue for discussion with potential bidders, ”said Sivarama Krishnan, Head of Asia Pacific, Cybersecurity, PwC.

The extent to which individual airlines were affected by the cyberattack varied from airline to airline. Some airlines wrote to their passengers that only passenger names and frequent flyer numbers were stolen. In the case of Air India, the theft concerned “Name, date of birth, contact information, passport information, ticket information, frequent flyer information from Star Alliance and Air India (but no password information was affected) and credit card information (but no CVV information). ”

Adopt corrective measures

Experts recommend Air India to give priority to alerting its customers and asking them to take certain preventive measures, says Sanchit Gogia, founder of Greyhound Research.

“The focus should be on remedial actions and protective measures rather than investigations alone. Air India should post a public recommendation either via email or SMS and encourage customers to beware of dubious emails, SMS or phone calls. Customers must be asked to change their passwords and credit and debit cards immediately. This will go a long way towards building trust, ”says Gogia.

At the same time, there is no need to panic. “There’s not much a hacker can do with just isolated a passport number. Once you’ve protected your email IDs and changed passwords, these measures will go a long way in reducing the steps of hacking by you. “

So far, Air India has posted a notification to its passengers on its websites asking them to change their passwords. The airline has stated that it is investigating the data security incident and is taking steps to secure the compromised servers. In addition, external specialists for data security incidents and contact with credit card manufacturers are called in.

SITA responded to an e-mail request on Saturday: “According to global and industry-standard standards, we identified this cyber attack extremely quickly. SITA continues to actively investigate the matter. Each affected airline has received the details of the exact nature of the compromised data, including details of the number of records in each of the relevant data categories, including some passenger personal data. “

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