20,000 Air Canada Customers Impacted By Breach
Airline Locks Down 1.7 Million Accounts
Air Canada has announced that the personal information of approximately 20,000 customers "may potentially have been improperly accessed" due to a breach in the company's mobile app.
As a precaution, the airline has locked down all 1.7 million user accounts until customers change their passwords.
The airline detected unusual login activity in its mobile app between August 22 and 24, prompting the investigation and subsequent security measures. Air Canada estimates that about 1% of the 1.7 million people using the app may have been affected by the breach.
The app stores basic user information such as name, email address, and telephone number, which could have been compromised. However, the airline assures customers that any credit card information on file is encrypted and protected.
Additional data that may have been accessed includes a customer's Aeroplan number, passport number, Nexus number, known traveler number, gender, birthdate, nationality, passport expiration date, passport country of issuance, and country of residence if users had them saved in their profiles.
Air Canada maintains that the risk of someone using the stolen information to file for a new passport is low, as long as users still possess a valid passport and other supporting documentation.
Since the breach was detected, Air Canada has not observed any further improper login activity. The airline is currently reaching out directly to the 20,000 individuals who were affected.
In the meantime, all mobile app accounts have been locked down, and users are being instructed to reset their passwords. However, some users have reported difficulties in doing so, likely due to the high volume of logins. Air Canada advises users to keep trying if they experience any issues.
Chester Wisniewski, a principal research scientist at cybersecurity firm Sophos, notes that while the stolen information may not lead to significant problems, it does raise concerns about the company's security practices. "You never want someone to know your name, your birthday, and your passport," he stated.
Wisniewski does not believe that Air Canada was specifically targeted by hackers but suggests that the breach may have occurred due to an exploit in the app's application programming interface (API), allowing unauthorized access to customer data.
To ensure the security of their information, Air Canada app users are urged to change their passwords as soon as possible. The airline assures customers that it is taking this incident seriously and is committed to protecting their personal information.