Hong Kong’s privacy commissioner will Establish a compliance Evaluation to Cathay Pacific Airways over a data breach involving 9.4 million passengers, saying the carrier may have violated privacy Regulations.
The airline has faced criticism because of its seven-month delay in its October revelation of the breach in the data, which it said was obtained without authorisation, after questionable activity in its own network in March.
“There are reasonable grounds to believe there might be a contravention of a requirement under the law,” Hong Kong’s Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data, Stephen Wong, said in a statement.
“The compliance analysis will analyze in detail, amongst others, the security measures taken by Cathay Pacific to safeguard its customers’ personal data along with the airline’s data retention policy and practice,” he further added.
It will also insure Cathay’s fully owned subsidiary, Hong Kong Dragon Airlines Ltd, or Dragon Air, a few of whose passengers were affected by the breach.
A Cathay Pacific spokeswoman said in an email to Reuters that the airline was studying the statement would”continue to cooperate fully with the authorities.”
The privacy watchdog said it had received 89 complaints related to the cyber leak.
In addition to 860,000 passport numbers and about 245,000 Hong Kong identity card numbers, the hackers accessed 403 expired credit card numbers and 27 credit card numbers with no card verification value (CVV), Cathay said.
It was not immediately clear who was behind the personal data breach or exactly what the information may be used for, but Cathay said there was not any evidence that any private information was misused.
The controversy has spurred calls from politicians and privacy advocates for Hong Kong to revamp its own legislation to make the reporting of these potential data breaches required.
Cathay’s share price originally dropped to its lowest since June 2009 after the scandal but has rebounded and recovered all its own losses.
The information breach comes amid an airline turnaround to cut costs and increase revenue, after devoting years of declines, so as to better compete with rivals in the Middle East, mainland China and budget airlines.
Back in August, Cathay Pacific posted a thinner half-year reduction on a solid growth in airfares and freight rates and flagged expectations for a better second half, despite economic headwinds from mounting U.S.-China commerce strain.