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Transport cyber threat continues, as British Airways and Air Canada are both hit.

Posted on 13-Sep-2018 12:27:10

British Airways was the subject of a massive data breach in 2018 [Credit Pixabay]The pervasive nature of cybercrime has again showed to be a direct threat to the transport industry after both British Airways (BA) and Air Canada were separately struck by massive data breaches that potentially affected hundreds of thousands of their customers.

The UK carrier’s incident included the theft of “personal and financial details” from bookings through ba.com or its app, compromising around 380,000 people between August 21st and September 5th. In Air Canada’s attack, which the company shut down after noticing “unusual login behaviour” over a two-day period in August, was focused on its app that is used by around 1.7 million people. Air Canada said in region of 20,000 profiles were “improperly accessed” and it began to contact affected parties directly.

BA’s data breach, which was brought to general attention after a number of affected passengers tweeted pictures of letter informing them of the breach, comes a matter of months after Delta, the US carrier, announced that it too had been illegally hacked. Delta made the discovery in April after the company that provides the airline’s online chat services, 24/7.ai, was involved in a cyber incident that in 2017 compromised its own data security. That failure led to banking information being exposed to the criminals, however Delta stressed that information such as passport, government ID or security information wasn’t accessed.

Relating to the BA hack, the airline’s chief executive, Alex Cruz, said that a “sophisticated, malicious criminal attack” was behind the breach, while a statement published on its website said it was investigating “as a matter of urgency” what went wrong. “The stolen data included personal and financial details of customers making bookings and changes on ba.com and the airline’s app. The data did not include travel or passport details and our website is now working normally,” read the statement. BA implored any of its customers worried that they were affected to contact their bank or credit card provider.

Air CanadaAir Canada required all of its customers to reset passwords with a more “robust” alternative as a preventative measure and attempted to allay fears of a further breach by locking all Air Canada mobile app accounts after the end-of-August attack. “We detected unusual login behaviour with Air Canada’s mobile App between Aug. 22-24, 2018. We immediately took action to block these attempts and implemented additional protocols to protect against further unauthorized attempts,” read a statement on the Canadian company’s website.

The malicious code that affected British Airways is suspected as being that of Magecart, a digital equivalent of the physical threat from scanners that ‘skim’ financial data from card readers and ATMs as their swiped or inserted. The code, which is clandestinely inserted into website and app source code, is also believed to be affecting many other industries, not just airlines. Recent reports have shown that the illicit code has also be used in incidents affecting Ticketmaser and the push notification service, Feedify.

You may also be interested in this:

Read: Airline security a cause for concern, as Delta reveals 2017 cyberattack.

Read: Five reasons why airlines and airports face a big risk of cyberattacks and what can be done about them.

Read: Nominet enlisted by Great Western Railway in fight against cyber-attacks.

Visit: Transport Security Congress, March 2019, Washington D.C.

Read: 5 Minutes With… Irra Ariella Khi, CEO and co-founder of VChain Technology.

Topics: AirportSecurity, CyberSecurity

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Dave Songer
Dave Songer