Malicious cyberattack hit airline; several flights cancelled in Alaska

RavnAir had to cancel at least a half-dozen flights after cybercriminals attacked its computer network

It looks like cybercriminals never lose an opportunity to make headlines, even during the end of the year when people are wrapping up their work to spend the holidays in peace. The travellers who were waiting for their flights in Alaska at this peak holiday time, had to spend hours to board their flight after a cyberattack disrupted the daily function of an airline company.

RavnAir had to cancel at least a half-dozen flights on Saturday, December 21 after what the company described as a malicious cyberattack on its computer network.

RavnAir cyberattack

RavnAir Wikimedia commons

The attack on the airline company not only caused disruption on its daily function but also affected almost 260 passengers who were supposed to board the flight on Saturday, stated company spokeswoman Debbie Reinwand.

As per the reports the company had to cancel all flights involving its Dash 8 aircraft until noon. In a statement, RavnAir stated that the cybersecurity breach forced the airline company to disconnect its Dash 8 maintenance system and its back-up.

FBI investigation

Singapore universities cyber attack
Cyber attack (Representational picture) Pixabay

Reports claimed that the company is currently working with FBI as well as other authorities and a cybersecurity company to restore the hacked system. However, after the attack RavnAir, which serves more than 100 communities in Alaska, many of which are not accessible by the road, said it will operate a normal afternoon schedule on its Dash-8 flights.

"We will be trying to add flights where we can over the next two days," said the airline company adding that "We have, where possible, re-booked passengers on other flights." It should be noted that PenAir flights and RavnAir Connect flights were still operating on a back-up system.

As per the American Automobile Association starting from December 21 to 23 are actually most packed airport days due to the holiday season.

Airline under cyber attack

A study of airline IT outages by Netscout, claimed that cybercriminals are targeting airline companies more than ever. The study mentioned that the cyberattacks against passenger air travel increased by more than 15,000% between 2017 and 2018.

It should be mentioned that airlines are easy targets but no one knows why they are in the hit list of cybercriminals. Hardik Modi, Netscout's senior director for threat intelligence stated that the hackers have traditionally concentrated attacks on internet service providers, telecoms, and cable operators. He added that "While those categories still represent prime targets, they are now relatively well protected."

The threat actors are now targeting the enterprise market, including passenger air travel. As per Sungard Availability Services, in 2018 the domestic airline industry had 10 major security outages. But it is unknown what role these cyberattacks played in these outages.

Related topics : Cybersecurity