Atlanta Airport GM outlines recent cyber attack of website


Atlanta airport officials successfully manage cyber attack

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport General Manager Balram Beheodari provided a rare detailed overview of what officials did to combat a recent cyberattack that temporarily knocked an external website offline.

ATLANTA – The general manager at the Atlanta airport offers insight into how officials managed to fend off a cyber attack earlier this week. The attack took down the external website for a while.

The denial of service attack created hours of operational headaches if it weren’t for the airport’s IT team.

“There’s always going to be bad guys trying to do damage,” CEO Balram Bheodari told the Atlanta City Council’s Transportation Committee during a meeting Wednesday.

Bheodari gave a behind-the-scenes look at how his team stopped the hackers.

The CEO was in Florida at a conference with other airport chiefs when he got the call.

“I went out and answered, and I saw the director of Phoenix (Sky Harbor International Airport) behind me, the director of LAX behind me and the chief operating officer of the Port Authority behind me,” Bheodari said. “And I looked around, wondering what’s going on with. Why are we all leaving this room? And we’re all getting the same messages at the same time.”

The warning was about one of the airport’s network systems being flooded with malicious emails.

“Twenty-nine million emails per second … are trying to break into our server,” Bheodari said.

“You have a limited resource, you know, like a server or a network cable or something like that, or a channel, and you’re basically trying to fit as many inputs into that one limited resource as possible,” said Brian Tant with Raxis, a security testing company. . “And what happens is the system just gets overloaded. It can’t respond to legitimate traffic, and the net effect is that it shuts down.”

The airport’s external website, where passengers get information such as parking availability and security check-in times, has decreased by several hours. Bheodari ordered a temporary suspension of e-mail to the US.

“There would be no impact on flight operations, it would just be a huge inconvenience,” Tant said.

The motive of the attack was not money, but political. Cyber ​​security experts say the attack was orchestrated by a shadowy pro-Russian hacker group calling itself Killnet. The group announced the target list on its Telegram channel.

The hack did not disrupt service at the airport.

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