FBI Issues Cybersecurity Warning to Air Travelers

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has issued a warning to air travelers to be wary of bogus US airport websites when booking flights online. 

Cyber-supervisory special agent Conal Whetten spoke to members of the press on Wednesday to raise awareness regarding the creation of a number of websites cleverly faked to look like the real deal.   

Whetten said these spoofed domains, which grow increasingly sophisticated as cyber-criminals hone their skills for mimicry, posed a real threat for travelers, airports and the aviation industry as a whole. 

By establishing a malicious domain that appears to feature an organization’s logo, font, color scheme, and writing style, cyber-criminals are frequently able to fool users into thinking that they are on a site that is authentic and safe to use. 

“They do this to steal personal and business data,” explained Whetten, “and US airports are an attractive target for cyber-actors because there is a rich environment of business and personal information.”

The malicious lookalike websites are created with domain names that are virtually the same as the site they are impersonating, often with just one character altered. This subtle difference can easily go undetected.

According to Whetten, criminals create these fake domains to spread malware capable of compromising a user’s personal or business data. The theft of this data can ultimately lead to identity theft and financial loss.

“They can use your social media lists to scam your friends and family, even order fraudulent purchases from online businesses, ultimately leaving you with the bill,” said Whetten.

The threat doesn’t stop once tickets have been booked, with criminals banking on airport users reaching for an IoT device at the airport to pass the time before they fly.

“Cyber-actors can capitalize on this sector by creating spoof domains and Wi-Fi networks, which can trick both passengers and airport operators into interacting with malicious websites or emails,” said Whetten.  

The agent advised users to disable or remove all unnecessary software protocols and portals and to use multi-factor authentication where possible. 

Describing just how widespread this particular cybercrime is, Whetten said: “Over 96% of companies suffer from domain spoofing attacks in one form or another.”

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