Airline announces probe into cyberattack
India's national carrier Air India on Friday announced that a recent cyberattack affected over 4.5 million flyers -- both domestic and international customers -- who had their passports, phone numbers and credit cards details "accessed."
In an email to its customers, also released on Twitter, Air India said it first became aware of the cyberattack, which led to the leakage of 10 years' worth of customer data, some three months ago and had immediately ordered a probe.
"SITA PSS, our data processor of the passenger service system, had recently been subjected to a cybersecurity attack leading to personal data leak of certain passengers. This incident affected around 4,500,000 data subjects in the world," Air India said.
"The breach involved personal data registered between 26th August 2011 and 3rd February 2021, with details that included name, date of birth, contact information, passport information, ticket information, Star Alliance and Air India frequent flyer data (but no passwords data were affected) as well as credit cards data," it added.
The national carrier said it had ordered a probe into the data leak in February itself.
"While we had received the first notification in this regard from our data processor on 25.02.2021, we would like to clarify that the identity of the affected data subjects was only provided to us by our data processor on 25.03.2021 and 5.04.2021," the airline said.
The Indian government has already announced that it will sell its entire stake in its national carrier, reeling under a debt of $3.2 billion, after its initial bid to offload a controlling stake in the airline failed to attract buyers.
Salt-to-software conglomerate Tata Group is reportedly one of the bidders for buying the ailing carrier.
Founded by industrialist JRD Tata as Tata Airlines in 1932, the carrier became a public limited company after World War II and was renamed Air India.
The airline is the largest international carrier out of India, with an 18.6% market share.
Over 57 domestic destinations and 45 international destinations in 31 countries across five continents are served by Air India.
Air India's assets include a number of slots at London's Heathrow airport, a fleet of some 100 aircraft, including Boeing Dreamliner, and hundreds of trained pilots.