Attack on Sabre reportedly conducted by Anthem, OPA hackers

American Airlines has been investigating its own systems, but there's no evidence of a breach so far, it says

Security

Security

Travel industry software maker Sabre is the latest company said to have been hit by the same hackers who recently attacked U.S. health insurer Anthem and the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM), while American Airlines has been investigating its own systems for evidence of a similar breach.

Texas-based Sabre, whose technology processes reservations for hundreds of airlines and thousands of hotel properties, on Friday confirmed that its systems were compromised.

"We recently learned of a cybersecurity incident, and we are conducting an investigation into it now," Sabre said. "At this time, we are not aware that this incident has compromised sensitive protected information, such as credit card data or personally identifiable information, but our investigation is ongoing."

A Friday Bloomberg report citing "three people with knowledge of the cybersecurity probes" suggested that both Sabre and American Airlines were the victims of attacks by the China-backed hackers who hit Anthem and the OPM.

American, however, has found no sign of a breach so far, it says.

"Our cybersecurity is always evolving -- it's a constant battle every day," said Casey Norton, a spokesman for American Airlines. "When one of our partners has communicated a breach, we redouble our efforts and bring in more cybersecurity experts to investigate our systems."

So far there's been no evidence of a compromise and no evidence of any loss of customer data, Norton said.

IP addresses used by the OPM hackers reportedly matched activity found in American Airlines' computer logs, but that may not signify a breach at the airline.

Sabre began its life as an independent company as a spin-off from American Airlines back in 2000. Because of the two companies' close historical ties, some of the IP addresses now used by Sabre are still registered to American, Norton noted. As a result, reports of an attack on an IP address owned by American doesn't necessarily mean the airline itself was hacked, he added.

The two companies began their investigations in the last month, according to Bloomberg.

Just last week, United Airlines was found to be another victim of the same wave of attacks.

Sabre processes 2 billion transactions every day, it says, affecting a billion travelers every year.

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Katherine Noyes

IDG News Service
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