US airports hit with cyberattacks; Russian hacker group suspected culprit

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Over a dozen major national airports reported cyberattacks on Monday that caused public-facing websites to go offline. According to a senior official briefed on the situation, a Russian hacker group is believed to be behind the incident.

The attacks did not impact any internal communications or transportation security. The source told ABC News, “It’s an inconvenience.”

Websites for Des Moines International Airport, Los Angeles International Airport, LaGuardia Airport, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, and Chicago O’Hare International Airport were impacted on Monday morning.

The “denial of service” attack meant that customers could not view wait times and congestion information on the airports’ public-facing web domains.

“Early this morning, the website was partially disrupted,” LAX told ABC News. “The service interruption was limited to portions of the public facing website only. No internal airport systems were compromised and there were no operational disruptions.”

“We noticed this morning that the external website was down, and our IT and security people are in the process of investigating,” Andrew Gobeil, a spokesman for Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, told WAGA-TV. “There has been no impact on operations.”

All of the impacted airports reported that the websites have since been restored.

John Hultquist, head of intelligence analysis at the cybersecurity firm Mandiant, told ABC News that over a dozen airport websites were targeted. The attackers were able to cause a “denial of public access” error by overloading the websites with artificial users.

Hultquist said the pro-Russian hacker group “Killnet” was believed to be behind the attacks. The group has been active since the invasion of Ukraine and is focused on targeting Ukraine’s allies.

Recently, the pro-Russian group Killnet took credit for taking down U.S. government websites in Kentucky, Florida, Alabama, and Indiana. The group was previously confirmed to have hacked a U.S. Congress website and organizations in Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Italy, and Estonia.

Hultquist noted that groups similar to Killnet have turned out to be fronts for state-backed actors but explained that there was no evidence to suggest the Russian government was involved in the Monday cyberattacks.

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