UPDATE 1-Travelex says first UK customer-facing systems restored

(Adds details from statement, background)

Jan 17 (Reuters) - Foreign currency provider Travelex said the first of its customer-facing systems in Britain was up and running on Friday, more than two weeks after hackers took hold of its systems, leading to a global blackout of its online services.

A phased global restoration of systems was "firmly underway," the company said.

Staff at Travelex were forced to use pen and paper to serve thousands of customers after ransomware forced the company to take all its systems offline, causing chaos for New Year holidaymakers and business travelers seeking online currency services.

Travelex, owned by Finablr, provides forex services for customers of HSBC, Barclays, Virgin Money and the banking arms of British retailers Tesco and Sainsbury.

It said on Friday that it was restoring in-branch retail systems in some Travelex and partner stores in the UK and testing some systems outside the UK this week.

It added that an automated order placement service used by a number of its British High Street banking partners was live.

"We have started restoring forex order processing electronically in our UK stores and in some of our UK retail partner locations, and we are also now starting our VAT refund service in UK airports," Travelex CEO Tony D'Souza said.

The currency trader said it was in the "advanced stages" of testing the systems supporting bank note orders and its UK international money transfer service.

The company, which has a presence in more than 70 countries, had been forced to serve customers face-to-face at 1,200 locations worldwide.

Travelex had said on Monday that it was restoring operations to process foreign exchange orders electronically. It has said then that there was no evidence to suggest that customer data has been compromised.

The company has said it was working with authorities including the National Cyber Security Centre and London's Metropolitan Police. The police have launched a criminal investigation.

Companies face an increasing threat from ransom-demanding hackers who cripple technology systems and demand payment to stop.

Travelex, which had been hit by ransomware called Sodinokibi, did not say if it had paid a ransom.

(Reporting by Noor Zainab Hussain in Bengaluru; Editing by Susan Fenton)

01/17/2020 12:17

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