A leading loyalty card provider based in Ireland has suffered a systems breach as a result of a cyber attack, potentially impacting thousands of customers.
Loyaltybuild said that as soon as it became aware of the breach it took "immediate action to rectify the situation and protect stored data".
The company operates a loyalty scheme that offers customers discounted one-off prices for holidays, travel and hotels.
The Irish Independent reported that up to 43,000 customers in Ireland and 102,000 customers in Norway and Sweden could be affected. It said that credit and debit card details belonging to customers of Super Valu, Axa and Stena Line may have been compromised.
Computerworld UK was not able to reach a spokesperson to get this verified.
"Unfortunately, the threat of cyber-attacks is increasingly becoming a reality of doing business today," Loyaltybuild said in a statement.
"To this end, we employ systems which operate to the highest level of encryption and security standards and we constantly monitor and test our systems."
Loyaltybuild said that it stores as little personal information as possible, where credit card numbers are encrypted and CVV numbers - the card verification value - are not stored.
All payment details are deleted 90 days after a customer has travelled, so only customers that have been away using Loyaltybuild's offers over the past three months are at risk.
A forensic investigation
The company is said to be working with a firm of "leading, international, online security experts", which are conducting a forensic investigation to identify whether any stored data was compromised.
However, as of 1pm yesterday the forensics team reported there had been no signs of person or payment data being extracted, but the investigation is ongoing.
The Irish Data Protection Commissioner and all affected clients have been informed of the situation.
Data security firm Check Point warned customers of Loyaltybuild to beware of phishing emails.
"The company has done the right thing in notifying those potentially affected by the breach, and customers' details are encrypted, which is good news. However, loyalty scheme users should be cautious about clicking on links in emails which claim to be from the company, no matter how authentic they seem to be," said Check Point's UK technical director Tom Davison.
"There's a risk that external parties could use the details exposed in the attack to send phishing emails to users, to try and harvest sensitive data."
He added: "These attacks against companies with the aim of stealing customer data are a real issue. We recently surveyed over 2,600 C-level and IT staff at firms globally, and found they reported an average of 68 new security attack attempts per week, with data theft as the main objective."