Menu
OPM, Anthem hackers reportedly also breached United Airlines

OPM, Anthem hackers reportedly also breached United Airlines

Flight manifests including passenger information and destinations were stolen, report claims

A United Airlines Boeing 747 at San Francisco International Airport on May 21, 2015

A United Airlines Boeing 747 at San Francisco International Airport on May 21, 2015

The cyberespionage group that stole the personal records of millions of Americans from U.S. health insurer Anthem and the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has also reportedly breached United Airlines.

The data stolen from United includes flight manifests, which contain information on passengers, their travel origins and destinations, Bloomberg reported Wednesday citing unnamed people familiar with the investigation.

The breach may have been discovered with the help of investigators in the OPM case who built a list of other potential victims after analyzing the domain names, phishing emails and attack infrastructure used by the group, the media organization reported.

United Continental Holdings, the airline's parent company, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The hacker group is believed to have ties to the Chinese government and also broke into the computer systems of at least ten companies and organizations, including Anthem, according to the Bloomberg report.

Security researchers from Symantec attributed the Anthem breach to a sophisticated cyberespionage group dubbed Black Vine that has been operating since 2012 and has targeted organizations from a variety of industries including aerospace, healthcare, energy, military and defense, finance, agriculture and technology.

Over 80 percent of victims were from the United States, the Symantec researchers said in a blog post that accompanied a white paper on the group's activities, published Tuesday.

The OPM breach, which exposed sensitive information on 21.5 million current and former U.S. government employees, including those who underwent background checks, is not mentioned in the paper, but the Anthem attack is.

The Anthem breach was announced in February and involved the theft of 78.8 million records with names, birth dates, Social Security numbers, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses and member IDs of health insurance holders.

According to Symantec, Black Vine is a well resourced group with access to exploits for previously unknown vulnerabilities -- zero-day exploits -- through an attack platform called the Elderwood framework that is shared by multiple cyberespionage groups, all based in China. The group also uses three custom malware programs known as Hurix, Sakurel and Mivast.

While United Airlines is not mentioned as a Black Vine victim in Symantec's white paper, there is circumstantial evidence that the group has an interest in airlines.

In May 2014, security researchers from Trend Micro reported in a blog post that a spear phishing campaign directed at an unnamed major global airline used Citrix products as a lure. The rogue emails contained a URL that appeared to be for the targeted airline's Citrix XenApp login page, a product that the organization actually used.

The URL, however, led to a page that distributed an executable file that was actually the Hurix backdoor, the Trend Micro researchers said at the time.

The blog post has since been removed from Trend Micro's website, but it still exists indexed in full on some other websites.

On July 8, United Airlines was forced to temporarily suspend all U.S. flights because of computer problems, following a similar incident on June 2. No connection was found between the July 8 downtime and the security breach, but a possible connection to the June 2 incident has not been ruled out, Bloomberg reported, citing two unnamed sources close to the investigation.


Follow Us

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags malwaresymantecintrusionUnited AirlinesU.S. Office of Personnel ManagementAnthemUnited Continental Holdings

Brand Post

What to expect from your IT Distributor

Whether you’re just starting out or you’ve been around since before the dot com rollercoaster, choosing the right distribution partner can be a pivotal factor in your success. This definitive guide outlines the traits that every IT partner needs to look for in their IT Distributor.

Featured

Slideshows

Meet the Reseller News 30 Under 30 Tech Awards 2020 winners

Meet the Reseller News 30 Under 30 Tech Awards 2020 winners

This year’s Reseller News 30 Under 30 Tech Awards were held as an integral part of the first entirely virtual Emerging Leaders​ forum, an annual event dedicated to identifying, educating and showcasing the New Zealand technology market’s rising stars. The 30 Under 30 Tech Awards 2020 recognised the outstanding achievements and business excellence of 30 talented individuals​, across both young leaders and those just starting out. In this slideshow, Reseller News honours this year's winners and captures their thoughts about how their ideas of leadership have changed over time.​

Meet the Reseller News 30 Under 30 Tech Awards 2020 winners
Reseller News Exchange Auckland: Beyond the myths — how partners can master cloud security

Reseller News Exchange Auckland: Beyond the myths — how partners can master cloud security

This exclusive Reseller News Exchange event in Auckland explored the challenges facing the partner community on the cloud security frontier, as well as market trends, customer priorities and how the channel can capitalise on the opportunities available. In association with Arrow, Bitdefender, Exclusive Networks, Fortinet and Palo Alto Networks. Photos by Gino Demeer.

Reseller News Exchange Auckland: Beyond the myths — how partners can master cloud security
Reseller News welcomes industry figures at 2020 Hall of Fame lunch

Reseller News welcomes industry figures at 2020 Hall of Fame lunch

Reseller News welcomed 2019 inductees - Leanne Buer, Ross Jenkins and Terry Dunn - to the fourth running of the Reseller News Hall of Fame lunch, held at the French Cafe in Auckland. The inductees discussed the changing face of the IT channel ecosystem in New Zealand and what it means to be a Reseller News Hall of Fame inductee. Photos by Gino Demeer.

Reseller News welcomes industry figures at 2020 Hall of Fame lunch
Show Comments