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Hackers Just Looted Passenger Data From Some of the Worlds Biggest Airlines – Gizmodo

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Illustration for article titled Hackers Just Looted Passenger Data From Some of the World's Biggest Airlines

Photo: Alex Wong (Getty Images)

SITA, a large data firm that works with some of the world’s largest airlines, announced Thursday that it had been the victim of a “highly sophisticated cyberattack,” the likes of which compromised information on hundreds of thousands of airline passengers all over the world.

The attack, which occurred in February, targeted data stored on SITA’s Passenger Service System servers, which are responsible for storing information related to transactions between carriers and customers. One of the things SITA does is act as a mechanism for data exchange between different airlines—helping to ensure that passenger “benefits can be used across different carriers” in a systematized fashion.

Understanding what specific data the hackers accessed is, at this point, a little tough—though it would appear that some of it was frequent flier information shared with SITA by members of the Star Alliance, the world’s largest global airline alliance.

An airline alliance is basically an industry consortium, and Star’s membership is comprised of some of the world’s most prominent airlines—including United Airlines, Lufthansa, Air Canada, and 23 others. Of those members, a number have already stepped forward to announce breaches in connection with the attack—and SITA itself would appear to have acknowledged that the affected parties are connected to alliance memberships.

One Alliance member, Air New Zealand, recently wrote to customers that “some of our customers’ data as well as that of many other Star Alliance airlines” had been affected by the SITA attack. Similarly, Singapore Airlines recently told its customers that some of its data had been affected by the breach because “Star Alliance member airlines provide a restricted set of frequent flyer programme [sic] data to the alliance, which is then sent on to other member airlines to reside in their respective passenger service systems.”

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