Europe’s biggest budget airline Ryanair has lost €4.6m after a hack enabled attackers to transfer the sum of money to a Chinese bank account – however, the airline is expected to be able to retrieve the money from the Chinese bank shortly.
The money was stolen via an electronic transfer last week after attackers gained access to the system.
The attack has been confirmed by the airline. In a statement this week, it said: “Ryanair confirms that it has investigated a fraudulent electronic transfer via a Chinese bank last week.
It continued: “The airline has been working with its banks and the relevant authorities and understands that the funds – less than $5m – 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.”
The airline, which runs a fleet of 400 predominantly Boeing 737 short-haul aircraft, went on to tell the Irish Times that the matter was now subject to legal proceedings. The funds are being pursued by the Criminal Assets Bureau in Dublin and equivalent agencies in Asia, the Asset Recovery Interagency Network Asia Pacific, based in Korea.
It is currently unclear how the attackers were able to gain access to Ryanair’s funds transfer systems, which are believed to have been tapped in order to perform the illegal transfer – although some form of insider compromise is most likely.
Ryanair, like any other major airline, makes regular multi-million dollar payments in order to pay for the aviation fuel that it needs and it is believed that the erroneous payment was contained with a batch of other major funds transfer payments.