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Ryanair hack sees €4.6m stolen and sent to Chinese bank account

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European airline Ryanair has admitted falling victim to a hacking attack that saw €4.6m of the company's money transferred to a bank account in China.

Law enforcement agencies and financial organisations have already been alerted to the incident, according to reports, and Ryanair is confident that it will get the money back.

"Ryanair confirms that it has investigated a fraudulent electronic transfer via a Chinese bank last week. 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 company said.

"The airline expects these funds to be repaid shortly, and has taken steps to ensure that this type of transfer cannot recur. As this matter is subject to legal proceedings, no further comment will be made."

The relevant authority in Ryanair's home country of Ireland is the Criminal Assets Bureau, an independent body with powers similar to the local police.

Like the UK Assets Recovery Agency, the Criminal Assets Bureau focuses on serious crimes and the ability to pursue assets from criminals and compensate victims.

The airline industry benefits and suffers from its use of technology. American Airlines was forced to ground flights this week because of a software problem. British Airways fell victim to an apparent hack in March that affected its most frequent fliers.

The company cleared out some of its user accounts and changed log-ins, but it was revealed that the hack was more of a probe on its systems enabled by a leak from another provider.

"This appears to have been the result of a third party using information obtained elsewhere on the internet, via an automated process, to try to gain access to some accounts,” BA said in a statement at the time.

The incidents underline the perils technology can pose to businesses and the importance of having adequete plans in place should things go wrong.

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