- A woman’s American Airlines account was hacked, resulting in the theft of 63,300 miles worth around $1,416.
- Public networks are not secure, be it at the airport or onboard an aircraft.
- To protect against hacking and data exposure, travelers should be cautious when using public networks, verify the network’s authenticity, avoid logging into sensitive accounts, and consider using a VPN service.
On Thursday, August 3rd, an American Airlines frequent flyer reported fraudulent activity to the police when she discovered that her American Airlines account was hacked and over 60,000 airline miles were stolen from it.
As reported by 13WIBW, the victim is a woman of age 32, and on the morning of August 2nd, the Riley County Police Department (RCPD) received a report of her account being hacked by an unknown suspect. The account had 63,300 miles stolen from it. The RCPD officials approximate that the amount of miles that were stolen from the victim’s account is equivalent to around $1,416.
Officials from the RCPD have stated that anyone with any information pertaining to this incident can provide information via Crime Stoppers, which is an online portal where residents can remain anonymous while providing tips to law enforcement and can even qualify for cash rewards of up to $1,000.
Photo: Gorodenkoff | Shutterstock
While this is an unfortunate incident, over the years, there have been multiple reports of American Airlines frequent flyers reporting their account getting hacked or having miles stolen from it.
As is the norm today, network connectivity is important for everyone, and as such, these days, the majority of places provide free public network connections accessible to everyone. While it certainly has advantages, the key disadvantage is that the connection may not be as secure. Unfortunately, this holds true for the WiFi services offered in airports and onboard aircraft these days.
While it might be scary to imagine, there have already been several instances of aircraft being hacked, both while it is flying in the air or when it is on the ground, connected at the gates.
In 2016, as an experiment to determine the possibility of hacking an aircraft, a team of experts from the US Department of Homeland Security was able to hack into a Boeing 757 aircraft while it was on the ground in Atlantic City.
Photo: Markus Mainka | Shutterstock
Up until that point, the aviation industry was under the belief that this was not possible, and this experiment raised several important questions regarding onboard connectivity and flight safety.
Additionally, during a cybersecurity conference held in 2018, a member of IOActive claimed that he had been able to hack hundreds of aircraft while in flight, from the ground, using the weaknesses in satellite equipment to hack into the aircraft. While he guaranteed that flight safety was never compromised, he claimed that he could hack the onboard WiFi and connect to passengers’ devices.
Tips for data protection
There are, however, some practices that can be followed to ensure the risk of being hacked or having data exposed to a minimum. As noted by The Washington Post, one of the tips is to ensure that the public network being connected to, at places like the airport, is the official airport network and not a similarly named network set up by hackers.
Photo: Rosmilyar | Shutterstock
Additionally, it is preferable to not log on to data-sensitive accounts when using a public network. Other tips include the use of a VPN (Virtual Private Network) service, which adds an extra layer of security by encrypting inbound and outbound data from travelers’ devices.
Source: 13WIBW, The Washington Post.
American Airlines has not had the slam dunk it was hoping for as Bangalore’s first connection to the US in 2020. Photo: Vincenzo Pace – Simple Flying
- IATA/ICAO Code:
- Airline Type:
- Full Service Carrier
- Charlotte Douglas International Airport, Chicago O’Hare International Airport, Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, Los Angeles International Airport, Miami International Airport, New York JFK Airport, LaGuardia Airport, Philadelphia International Airport, Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport
- Year Founded:
- Robert Isom
- United States
- Participating Airlines:
- American Airlines
- American Airlines
- North America
- United States
- Established Date: