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Hackers are targeting the airline industry


“What can airline passengers do to make sure that their personal data and credit card information do not end up in the hands of cybercriminals?”

If you’re a frequent flyer, you might want to check whether you’re one of those who could have been targeted by what’s been described as a “massive, highly sophisticated cyber attack” in the first quarter of this year.  

The cyber hacking is reported to have affected almost all of the world’s airline companies, targeting 10 years worth of personal data of an estimated 4.5 million passengers, mostly those considered frequent flyers.

What’s been compromised are passenger service system (PSS) servers in the United States of the Geneva-based SITA, one of the biggest air transport industry companies in the world. SITA provides information technology (IT) and telecommunication services to 400 members  and 2,800 customers, which SITA claims to comprise 90 percent of the world’s airline business.

 SITA helps airlines manage reservations, ticketing, aircraft departures, airport operations and security, baggage, aircraft connectivity and in-flight cabin and cockpit operations, through its Horizon PSS.

SITA is one of just a few aviation IT providers offering passenger ticketing and reservation services to airlines across the globe. The others include the Texas-based Sabre Corporation and the Madrid-headquartered Amadeus IT Group.

And here’s what could prove worrisome for local air travellers:  SITA provides airlines and border control (immigration) solutions in the Philippines, thus making its clients similarly vulnerable to, or at risk of, security breaches. The two leading airlines in the country, namely Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific Air, use SITA’s Horizon system.

Hence, companies and individuals wanting to hire the services of SITA would do well to think twice before doing so, because they could expose their highly sensitive and confidential corporate and personal data plus those of…

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