Airport Websites Shut Down Thanks to Pro-Russian Hackers

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Everyone is choosing sides. If your neighborhood baker chooses the wrong side, you just find another baker. However, when hackers get involved, they tend to make life miserable for everyone. And that was particularly the case this past Monday when a number of U.S. airport websites were taken offline. So, if you wanted to book a flight or even track a flight and were unable to do it, you now know why.

A pro-Russian hacker organization has claimed credit for temporarily shutting off some U.S. airport websites on Monday, even though there appeared to be no effect on flights.

The cyberattacks reported by Killnet have affected the websites of Los Angeles International, Chicago O’Hare, and Hartsfield-Jackson International in Atlanta, as well as others.

The group shared the list of airports on Telegram and urged hackers to join in what’s called the DDoS attack, which is a distributed denial of service that occurs when a computer network is overloaded by multiple data transmissions.

The call to action included airports across the nation, such as Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, and Missouri.

It is not known how many airports actually affected and if all the victims’ airports experienced any interruptions.

In an announcement, LAX officials told NPR that FlyLAX.com was temporarily disrupted on Monday morning.

“The service interruption was limited to portions of the public facing FlyLAX.com website only. No internal airport systems were compromised and there were no operational disruptions,” a spokesperson stated in an email.

She also said that the airport’s technology group has restored the airport’s services and is currently investigating the root of the issue. The airport has also notified the FBI as well as officials from the Transportation Security Administration.

At around 1.30 p.m., Atlanta authorities announced that ATL.com is “up and running after an incident early this morning that made it inaccessible to the public.” However, users on Twitter were still complaining about areas of the website that were not accessible for several hours after the announcement was made.

Atlanta airport officials have said that there was no impact on operations at the airport that had been affected.

In a previous post this morning, Killnet noted other vulnerable U.S. sites that could fall victim to similar DDoS attacks, including logistic facilities and sea terminals and weather monitoring centers, healthcare systems, subway systems, exchanges, and trading systems online.

The group also praised a small number of teams that they said have helped shut down the websites by writing “Who is participated in the liquidation of the United States of America, Do not stop!!”

The attacks came following a second wave of cyberattacks that were allegedly initiated by the group last week. In this instance, the group claimed credit for bringing hackers together to close down government sites of the state.

Both campaigns seem to be motivated by anti-U.S. feelings about the involvement of the United States in the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. In the meantime, Russian President Vladimir Putin presses on with the war despite harsh economic sanctions.

Will a few airport websites being shut down for hours deter the U.S.? Hardly not. However, it is troubling that there were so many hackers who were brought together to carry out the DDoS attacks. There’s no telling how devastating this could have been if the hackers had bothered to target anything of real importance.