At the height of the summer season, the shutdown is upsetting the travel plans of thousands of tourists. United Airlines flies to 235 airports within the US, making one out of every six commercial flights in the country. The shutdown was attributed to “automation information” issues.
Earlier this year something similar had happend to United Airlines already. Back then a passenger, the founder and CTO of the tech firm Cloudstitch, tweeted that his pilot told passengers that the grounding was due to a possible hack of United’s computer network and the flight plan-delivery protocol used by every airline.
What happened yesterday reminds of the May 31 issue of the Polish LOT airline in Warsaw – and the above mentioned earlier hack of the United Airlines system in the US. In the Polish attack, hackers caused the airline’s ground computer systems to issue bogus flight plans.
Just hours later the New York Stock Exchange ran into similar problems. “I have spoken to the CEO of United, Jeff Smisek, myself. It appears from what we know at this stage that the malfunctions at United and the stock exchange were not the result of any nefarious actor,” U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson says.
But even if no hackers were involved it definitely is a wakeup call: If something like that happens without any involvement of cybercriminals, how much worse would it be once one of them actually manages to screw around with all the tech?