In Canada, the Saskatoon Airport Authority’s computer system incurred a vicious cyber attack earlier this month. The Saskatoon Airport Authority (SAA) learned of the breach on December 7th, according to an official statement. 

The airport authority “…became aware that our IT system was targeted through sophisticated, unauthorized means…,” and “A number of files may have been accessed,” said the SAA. The precise contents of the files remains unknown to the general public. 

Parties potentially affected by the breach have received notification, which suggests that passenger accounts may have been compromised, although more information is needed. External experts are investigating the incident. 

Real-world effects

On Friday, December 15th, the Saskatoon Airport’s twitter handle, @fly_skyxe, released a post explaining that the group’s website “…is currently not reporting up to date information” and that visitors should confirm flight status’ directly with airlines. 

When a passenger tweeted a reply inquiring about the ETA for resolving the issue, Saskatoon Airport responded with “Our team continues to work on this issue, we do not yet have an ETA on when it will be back. Sorry for the inconvenience.”

On December 14th, @fly_skyxe explained that the screens in the terminals were also down. Explanations appeared in both French and English. 

Investigation information 

Authorities assert that the incident is “of the utmost concern.” Given the holiday season, when millions of people are traveling, the attack on SAA represents a high priority case.

The SAA issued a public apology for any inconvenience caused by the security breach. Further information is not available at this time, as the investigation remains ongoing. 

Experts seek to understand how the attack happened, whether or not similar attacks may occur within other facilities, and applicable solutions. Ultimately, the threat to computer systems was identified and has been eliminated. 

Trending on Twitter…

The Saskatoon Airport Authority incident appears in mentions on Twitter. 

Saskatoon Airport Cyber Attack Tweet

And this Tweet…

Victim list

See Cyber Talk’s travel coverage

In summary

Although this incident represented a snag for the Saskatoon Airport Authority, it didn’t appear to significantly interrupt airport operations or disrupt travelers’ holiday plans. Nonetheless, the airport sector may be of growing interest among cyber criminals. In the past six years, more than 10 paralyzing airport industry attacks have occurred.

In these incidents, passengers have been stranded, passport numbers stolen, account information intercepted, tens of flights have been cancelled or delayed, surveillance cameras have been rendered inoperable…etc. 

The threat landscape is intensifying. In preventing airport industry cyber attacks, organizations must use products and services that meet compliance requirements and that can protect new infrastructure models. 

Take your security to new heights. Read about one airline that chose Check Point’s CloudGuard architecture to gain greater cyber security coverage here.

Lastly, to learn more about pressing issues in the cyber world, please join us at the premiere cyber security event of the year – CPX 360 2022. Register here.