23 Mar

Data security incident update

It has now been a week since we wrote to ABTA Members, and members of the public, to inform them about unauthorised access to ABTA’s web server that may have resulted in some data being viewed by an external hacker. First, I would like to reiterate to anyone we have contacted how sorry I am for the concern and inconvenience this incident may have caused you. While most of the data that was vulnerable is considered to be at low risk of exposure to identity theft or online fraud, and security experts who are monitoring the situation have told us that there is no evidence that data has been shared beyond the infiltrator, that doesn’t detract from the seriousness of the incident. After we fixed the vulnerability, our immediate priority was to inform anyone whose data may have been accessed, and to provide as much support and guidance as possible. Part of that support has been providing back-up call centres for our Members, here at ABTA, and for customers, through call-handling specialists Experian. Overall, the volume of calls has been low but understandably the focus of some of the enquiries, particularly among Members, has been “how did this happen?” and “what is ABTA going to do about it?”. We have already started our investigation into the incident and I have made it a priority for the organisation to ensure we are doing everything to make all the data we hold even more secure.  Finally, I’m sorry to say that since last week, there have been some aggressive and inaccurate sales messages employed by some organisations looking to exploit the situation and push their data security ‘expertise’ to ABTA Members. I would advise any Member who is approached by an organisation whose marketing is based on ‘scare tactics’ to proceed with caution.

Finally, a word on yesterday’s terrorist attack in London: this truly appalling attack was in the heart of London and in an area very popular with tourists. Our thoughts are with all of those who have lost loved ones or who have been injured in the attack. Our police and security forces, who sadly lost a member yesterday, do an incredible job at protecting us and ensuring London and the UK as a whole remain open for visitors from home and abroad.

Mark Tanzer, Chief Executive