In a major data breach, the information of hundreds of thousands of airline passengers has been compromised. Global air transport data giant SITA said that it had been the victim of a highly sophisticated cyber-attack. The company said that attackers targeted data stored on Passenger Service System servers of SITA. The attack was confirmed in the last week of February following SITA contacted affected airlines. SITA serves around 90 percent of airlines worldwide and it one of the largest aviation IT companies. These airlines rely on the passenger service system Horizon provided by SITA to manage all reservations and ticketing.
SITA stores information related to all kinds of transactions between airlines and their customers. So SITA basically acts as a bridge for data exchange between customers and airlines. This makes sure that passengers have access to the entire benefits offer by different airlines in a systematized fashion. At the moment there are some doubts about what kind of data hackers accessed during the attack. But reports suggest that some of the data breached were shared by members of Star Alliance. Founded in 1997, Star Alliance is the world’s largest and first global airline alliance. The breach is another example of how third parties continue to pose a threat to the companies. Because of the way the data is stored, it is very easy for security offers to miss the weakest link.
SITA spokesperson Edna Ayme-Yahil said that investigation is underway into the matter. Without sharing any specific details, the company has stated that affected airlines are not from the United States but around the world. It emphasized that ‘targeted’ containment measures were immediately deployed by the team. However, the company has confirmed that it alerted several airlines. Air New Zealand informed customers that the data of some customers had been affected in the attack. Malaysia Airlines said that details like date of birth and contact numbers have been compromised. SITA provides services like reservation systems and passenger ticketing to several airlines. It also gives services to Amadeus and Sabre.