It seems the same group of China-linked hackers that have been on a rampage of hacking major health insurers and have stolen United States military and intelligence agencies personnel records is at it again. According to Bloomberg on August 7, 2015, the hackers’ target this time was American Airlines Reservations and Sabre Corporation. These attacks were part of the wave of attacks that occurred on Anthem Inc. and the US Government’s personnel office. Sabre Corp. has confirmed their systems were definitely breached while American Airlines is not so sure they were affected.
Sabre Corp. is a company which is responsible for processing reservations for hundreds of airlines and thousands of hotels. If their system was indeed attacked then hackers could have potentially made off with personal data and identification of hundreds of thousands of people who booked flights and hotel reservations through one of the companies Sabre does the processing for. This attack comes only one-week after a reported attack on the world’s second-largest airline, United Airlines.
In an email to Reuters, American Airlines confirmed that they do not believe their systems were attacked; however, their investigation is ongoing and they are working with outside specialists to assess the type of attack, IP addresses, and other details that will give them a better picture of whether or not they were a victim of the China-linked hackers. “American has worked with outside cyber security experts who checked digital signatures, IP addresses and the style of attack, and there’s no evidence to suggest a breach similar to that experienced by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management,” said Casey Norton an American Airlines spokesperson in the email.
This latest attack has some American Airlines customers worried that their personal information and credit card data may be in jeopardy. Recently, Jeff Sherwood from the popular blog Money Buys Dreams flew with American Airlines for an online business conference that was held in Las Vegas, Nevada. He says, “An attack where my personal and financial information was stolen just because I took a flight would be devastating to my family as well as to all of the families who were victims of the attack. I am confident that American Airlines will do all they can to keep our information safe and secure as the threat on cyber security becomes more apparent.”
While they are not totally out of the woods, customers such as Sherwood should not worry too much as they do not seem to be the center of focus for hackers. Instead, the China-linked hackers seem to be targeting government employees and military personnel so they can track their travel patterns and movements as a way to blackmail them for intelligence information. If this information falls into the wrong hands it could make the entire country vulnerable to an attack that could be devastating for US citizens.