Almost anyone in the world who has basic general computer skills also has the potential to alter the online bookings and steal flights. German cyber security researchers explain this matter lies within the bookings systems as being “too primitive.”
With the ease and convenience for passengers, online booking is the way to go. However, the ageing computer systems that are used to fulfill the purpose of these bookings are vulnerable to the traditional primitive hacks. The online flight bookings worldwide are managed by a specific GDS (Global Distributed System) that easily connects travel agents, other online booking sites, different airlines, as well as passengers within a network.
The three most common – and also the largest – GDS companies are Amadeus, Sabre, and Travelport. Between these GDS companies, more than 90 percent of the bookings are handled, not to mention hotel bookings, car rentals and other travel-related bookings.
With the ease of online check-ins and the EU’s visa-free Schengen zones (passports and identification are not required at the airports while travelling within the bloc); altering the departure times and email addresses significantly increases the possibility of the real passenger not knowing about the data breach.
Nothing will happen if the hacker-generated booking code is wrong. With new modern websites and updated computer systems, the number of allowed attempts to try a code from a single IP address is limited. However, the archaic systems currently used don’t provide this same level of security.
This isn’t the first time where the passenger’s privacy has been exposed due to vulnerability issues. Back in August, Sueddeutsche Zeitung said the names, credit card numbers, and flight details belonging to several million airline passengers in Europe can be accessed due to the lack of online security.
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