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Carnival Cruise data breach leaks personal information of customers and employees

The cost of ransomware attacks on businesses
The cost of ransomware attacks on businesses 04:39

Carnival Corp. said Thursday that a data breach in March might have exposed personal information about customers and employees on Carnival Cruise Line, Holland America Line and Princess Cruises. The breach makes Carnival the latest in a string of large companies to be hit by hackers this year, including McDonald's, JBS meatpacking and Colonial Pipeline.

In a letter to customers, the company indicated that outsiders might have gained access to Social Security numbers, passport numbers, dates of birth, addresses and health information of people.

The company declined to say how many people's information was exposed.

Carnival spokesman Roger Frizzell said the company detected the latest intrusion to some of its information-technology systems on March 19 and shut down access and hired a cybersecurity company to investigate. He said Carnival is making changes to improve security of its information systems.

Frizzell said the company has notified the affected people and set up a call center to answer their questions.

Why the FBI discourages companies from paying ransom 05:00

The breach comes after Carnival was hit twice last year by ransomware attacks. 

The Miami-headquartered company disclosed in a securities filing in April that hackers broke into its systems in August of last year and again in December.

Driven by a rise in phishing scams and ransomware, cybercrime has surged amid the pandemic, affecting large and small businesses alike. The average cost of a data breach soared to $21,659 per incident during the pandemic, with most incidents ranging from as little as $800 to more than $650,000, according to a report from Verizon. But 5% of successful attacks cost businesses $1 million or more.

Upscale fitness equipment manufacturer Peloton said Wednesday it fixed a security flaw in its bike and treadmill products that potentially allowed hackers to spy on users and even control their exercise machines. Meanwhile, the ransomware attack on Colonial Pipeline in April shined a light on an emerging business trend in "ransomware-as-a-service," in which criminal groups sell hacking software or services to those who want to carry out cyberattacks to extort victims.

Meat packing facility cyberattack raises concerns about food supply chain 05:57

The Carnival Cruise Line attackers encrypted part of one cruise line's IT systems and gained access to personal information about customers and employees. Carnival said there was no indication that personal information exposed in those attacks was misused. The company did not indicate whether it paid a ransom.

The ransomware attack on Colonial Pipeline in April shined a light on an emerging business trend in the depths of the dark web where criminal gangs brazenly sell their expertise in computerized mayhem to the highest bidder.

Carnival's shares fell 3% to $28.42 Thursday and were down another 1% as of 10:00 a.m. EST. 

Dan Patterson and Musadiq Bidar contributed to this report.

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