British Airways have been targeted by a "sophisticated, malicious criminal attack" on their website and app, between August 21st and September 5th, leading to the compromise of 380,000 customers' data.

When asked about what specific data was stolen, BA boss Alex Cruz said, "It was name, email address, credit card information - that would be credit card number, expiration date and the three digit code on the back of the credit card."

At this moment, BA have not revealed any details on how the hackers gained access to their systems, but the specific timing given for the attack leads cyber experts to believe that the attackers obtained a script for the website, using malicious code to extract financial information in the same moment that customers entered it, rather than gaining access to an actual database.

british airways


So, what can we take away from this news?

Modern cyber attacks are quickly growing in volume and sophistication, with new malware strains like ransomware which are designed to evade traditional detection techniques and are often distributed through targeted, zero-day attacks. Barracuda's Advanced Threat Protection utilises a layered defensive approach to combat these zero-day attacks, combined with machine learning technologies to stay up to date with the ever-evolving malware variants.

The usual method of prevention against zero-day attacks is sandboxing, which involves isolating an application to prevent malicious interactions with said protected item - this method may be effective in some instances, but when applied to a larger quantity of applications it becomes incredibly time consuming. We can see from the British Airways case that response time is critical, as their attacker managed to stay hidden on their website for 2 weeks, continuing to collect customer card details in real time as they were submitted.

Another common cyber threat is spear phishing, which targets specific individuals, using public information to create a convincing scenario to manipulate the target. These attacks rely heavily on user error, and even with the right security education training, mistakes can still be made.

Barracuda Sentinel implements artificial intelligence to detect and block spear phishing attacks in real time, as well as identifying employees within the company who are at a higher level of risk based on their interactions with suspicious emails. Using these behavioural analytics helps to create a more focused and effective training program, as well as identifying patterns and trends to prevent future attacks.

For more information about Barracuda's threat protection services, contact our team or use the relevant resources below.


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