Bristol Airport Admits Cyber Attack Impacted Flight Display Screens
Ransomware attack took down flight display screens for two days, Bristol Airport admits
A British airport has admitted that a cyber attack took down its flight display screens for two days last week.
Bristol Airport said that information screens were taken offline early on Friday, as the airport sought to contain ransomware-like attack.
On Sunday the airport said that the displays were back up and working in key locations (in the departures and arrivals halls), but that work is continuing to get the whole site back online.
A spokesman for Bristol Airport told the BBC that no ransom had been paid to get the systems back up and working again.
“We believe there was an online attempt to target part of our administrative systems and that required us to take a number of applications offline as a precautionary measure, including the one that provides our data for flight information screens,” spokesman James Gore told the BBC.
“That was done to contain the problem and avoid any further impact on more critical systems.
The spokesman said that the airport had resorted to using whiteboards and marker pens instead of the overhead display screens. No flights were apparently disrupted as a result.
“The indications are that this was a speculative attempt rather than targeted attack on Bristol Airport,” the spokesman reportedly said. “At no point were any safety or security systems impacted or put at risk.”
“Given the number of safety and security critical systems operating at an airport, we wanted to make sure that the issue with the flight information application that experienced the problem was absolutely resolved before it was put back online,” he reportedly added.
At least one security expert had said that the airport’s lack of information about the ‘speculative’ attack suggested it was unable to deal with an unsophisticated attack.
“Bristol Airport have not released any detail about the method of attack, however they have stated that they think the attack is speculative rather than targeting, which suggests an unsophisticated attack,” said Andy Norton, director of threat intelligence at Lastline.
“That in itself is worrying that airport defences were not capable of stopping a simple attack, or the attack that required taking down the arrival and departure screens, is a distraction to a larger attack,” he added.
Earlier this month Gatwick airport had issues with their display screens. Gatwick blamed its screen outage on an “IT issue” with its IT provider Vodafone.
Last year passengers at a number of airports including Gatwick, Paris Charles de Gaulle and Melbourne among others were delayed due to a networking fault with a passenger management system called Amadeus Altea.
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