British Airways investigating theft of customer data

British Airways passengers may have had their personal and financial information compromised if they booked between August 21 and September 5

British Airways (BA) was forced to apologise on Friday after the credit card details of hundreds of thousands of its customers were stolen over a two-week period in the worst ever attack on its website and app.

The nearly two week long hack did not involve travel or passport details, the airline said, adding that it had launched an urgent investigation into the theft of customer data.

It advises people to contact their bank or credit card company if they used the airline's website and mobile app to make or change a booking between 10:58 p.m. London time on August 21 and 9:45 p.m. London time on September 5.

But U.K. information regulators could end up fining British Airways over the breach.

The airline has notified police and relevant authorities.

We take very seriously the safety of our customer data, "said Alex Cruz, president and executive director of the company".

Future bookings will not be affected, BA said.

It immediately contacted customers when the extent of the breach became clear.

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The airline promised to reimburse any financial losses suffered by customers directly because of the theft of this data.

Cruz told the BBC's "Today" programme that the data breach was a "sophisticated, malicious criminal attack". The airline said it would manage any claims on an individual basis.

"I´ve not heard anything from them on this and I´ve just had to cancel the card I used".

A spokesman for the ICO said it would be "making inquiries" into the British Airways hack.

She tweeted: "My bank... are experiencing extremely high call volumes due to this breach!"

The incident comes after an IT meltdown caused huge disruption for BA passengers at the start of the May half-term holiday. The airline said affected customers should follow their bank or provider's recommended advice.

The company said there was evidence that some of the data "may have left our systems", although the records did not contain payment card or bank account details and there was no evidence that any fraud has resulted.

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