Pro-Russian 'Killnet' Hits US Airport Websites

'Denial of service' attack did not affect air traffic or flight operations
By Mike L. Ford,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 10, 2022 2:42 PM CDT
Pro-Russian Hackers Hit US Airport Websites
   (Getty - gorodenkoff)

Officials at more than a dozen major US airports were greeted first thing Monday morning by cyberattacks against their public-facing websites. Air travel was not disrupted, per Axios, but the issue may have been an “inconvenience” for some travelers. The pro-Russian “hacktivist” group Killnet claimed responsibility. The group also issued a call to action on Telegram, saying, “We invite everyone to commit DDoS on the civilian network infrastructure of the United States of America” and providing a list of targets including airports, hospitals, and weather-monitoring centers.

DDoS refers to a “distributed denial of service” attack, in which hackers jam computer servers with fake traffic. According to ABC News, the first attack was reported at LaGuardia around 3am. It did not affect air traffic control or other critical systems and was resolved soon after. Over the course of the morning, similar attacks were reported at LAX, O’Hare, Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson, and others. Killnet launched similar attacks last week against several US state websites in what CNN calls “politically motivated hacking” related to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The group has been active throughout the war. In early summer, members claimed responsibility for attacks on a US Congress website and several Lithuanian organizations, following that country’s decision to block shipping to the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad. Although Killnet is composed of Russian speakers who support the Kremlin, the group's exact links to Moscow are not known. A cybersecurity expert told CNN that “DDoS attacks are favored by actors of varying sophistication because they have visible results, but these incidents are usually superficial and short lived.” (More hacktivists stories.)

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