United Airlines Reportedly Breached by OPM, Anthem Hackers

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The hackers allegedly responsible for the massive breaches at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management and insurance giant Anthem appear to have also hacked United Airlines, Bloomberg reported.According to several sources familiar with the incident, the intrusion into its computer systems was detected by the airline back in May or early June.“Investigators working with the carrier have linked the attack to a group of China-backed hackers they say are behind several other large heists – including the theft of security-clearance records from [OPM] and medical data from health insurer Anthem Inc.,” reported Bloomberg.The attack on United – the world’s second-largest airline – consisted of the compromise of passengers’ information, such as origins and destinations.However, as one of the biggest contractors with U.S. government, United’s travel information, in combination with the stolen data from OPM and Anthem, could potentially be used to blackmail or recruit people with security clearances, said Bloomberg.“The theft of airline records potentially offers another layer of information that would allow China to chart the travel patterns of specific government or military officials,” the report said. In addition to the stolen passenger lists and other flight-related data, the hackers may have also accessed the airline’s future mergers and acquisitions strategy, said one of the sources familiar with the investigation.As is often the case early in breach investigation, details on exactly how the attackers succeeded on penetrating United Airlines’ systems is unclear, explains Tripwire’s Tim Erlin, Director of Security and Risk Strategy.“It will likely be months before we know more, but it’s imperative that details are shared with other organizations, so that we can collectively improve defenses,” Erlin added.

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