Ryanair falls victim to Chinese bank hack

The Irish budget airline is the latest victim of cyber crime.

by Rachel Savage
Last Updated: 23 Oct 2015

Hacking is the new smash ‘n’ grab (although the Hatton Garden heisters didn’t get that particular e-memo), but businesses still haven’t really got wise to it. Ryanair is just the latest company to fall victim to cyber crime, with around $5m (4.6m, £3.3m) nicked from one of its accounts via a Chinese bank.

‘Ryanair confirms that it has investigated a fraudulent electronic transfer via a Chinese bank last week,’ the budget airline said in a statement. ‘The airline has been working with its banks and the relevant authorities and understands that the funds – less than $5 million – have now been frozen.

‘The airline expects these funds to be repaid shortly, and has taken steps to ensure that this type of transfer cannot recur. As this matter is subject to legal proceedings, no further comment will be made.’

Dublin’s Criminal Assets Bureau is working on getting the cash back with its Asian counterparts, according to The Irish Times. Ryanair uses dollars to buy aircraft fuel and it was reportedly those funds that were skimmed.

It’s only small change for Ryanair, which made revenues of €1.1bn in its most recent quarter. More damaging is any hit to its reputation, which an increasingly long list of companies can attest to. After Ebay customer data was hacked last May, Sony was targeted by North Korea over its spoof Kim Jong-Un assassination The Interview, which led to thousands of embarrassing emails being leaked and Sony Pictures boss Amy Pascal being fired. More recently, Costa Coffee’s loyalty scheme was compromised last week, while British Airways’ frequent flyer scheme came under attack a month ago.

Hackers are ‘trawling the internet like Spanish fisherman are trawling the ocean,’ Nick Prescott, a senior manager at cyber security consultancy Blackthorn, said at the time of the Sony hack. ‘If anything can be nicked they’ll nick it.’ If companies want to stop any more embarrassing leaks or customers being compromised they need to get their heads in the game to stay one step ahead of opportunistic internet thieves.

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