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Delta Airlines Cyberattack: Passengers' Payment Info Compromised

Consumers who have recently flown on any Delta Air Lines craft might be in for a scare after the company revealed early in April that its security over transaction information may have been hacked.

The report cited that the security surrounding that data may have been compromised after cyberattacks targeted Delta's (24)7.ai chat service provider late in 2017. The San Jose, California-based provider confirmed that some online payment info was exposed, but said the breach only affect a small portion of the customer base and has since secured its platform from further cyber assaults.

The attacks surround transactions that took place between Sept. 26 and Oct. 12, when legal enforcement and forensic staff managed to shut down that access. Although the airline said that "a small subset" of passengers would be affected, it also declared that the exposed material did not consist of such personal information as frequent flyer accounts, security details or passport data.

Investigators have since determined that hackers launched a malware attack on the chat service and were not only able to access Delta information, but consumer transaction data from Sears Holdings. They blamed the attack on weak policies surrounding the security of (24)7.ai. While Delta didn't release any numbers associated with the size of its customer base being affected, Sears reported that around 100,000 credit cards were prone to the attack.

Given the delicacy of details surrounding the hack's effect on credit card information, Delta has assured consumers that they won't be held financially responsible and has since dedicated a website to provide updates and further details in the wake of the breach.

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The announcements are likely to be anything but reassuring to customers, according to a company that designs electronic systems for aircraft. U.S.-based Thales Group believes things could be much worse if flight safety is also compromised.

The company's president and CEO, Alan Pellegrini, recently stated that hackers are already compromising in-flight entertainment systems, communications between pilots and air traffic controllers and other aviation infrastructure. While there have been no reports of injuries or fatalities in these hacks, Pellegrini said one extreme case resulted in a myriad of flight cancellations in Europe.

“I’m not trying to scare anybody but these things are happening,” said Pellegrini. “As the aircraft become connected, there are real hacks.”

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