Hackers on Friday successfully pulled-off cyberattacks against Vietnam’s two largest airports and the nation’s flag carrier, Vietnam Airlines.
The attacks — attributed to a Chinese hacking group known as 1937CN — ultimately failed to cause any significant security issues or air traffic control problems, Vice Minister of Transport Nguyen Nhat told local media.
Nonetheless, the individuals briefly hijacked flight information screens and sound systems inside Noi Bai and Tan Son Nhat airports in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, respectively.
“All internet systems have been switched off so we had to do everything by hand,” an airline attendant at Tan Son Nhat told Vietnam’s Tuou Tre News.
At a third hub, Da Nang International, computer systems experienced repeated glitches, according to the news site. Instead of departure and arrival details, the airports’ flight screens and speakers broadcast what local media described as anti-Vietnamese and Philippines slogans, in turn prompting authorities to shut down both systems.
Toui Tre published video footage from inside one of the airports that contains audio of the English-language message played to travelers.
“This is a warning from China 1937CN Team,” a voice could be heard saying in the clip. “South China Sea is China’s inherent territory.”
Vietnam Airline’s website, meanwhile, “was seized control and transferred to a malicious website abroad,” and defaced to display a similar warning to visitors attributed to the same hacking crew. Passenger data pertaining to an undisclosed number of its frequent flyers was published online as well, the airline said in a statement. Local media on Friday said about 100 MB of data concerning roughly 40,000 VMA passengers had been dumped online.
Vietnam Airlines urged passengers Friday to give themselves extra time for checking-in, and said frequent flyer customers should change their passwords. The company is considered the nation’s flag carrier and regularly conducts international flights to destinations in four continents, including more than a dozen in the U.S. such as New York, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C.