Hackers Score 1M Free Miles For Helping United Solve Security Flaws

Jessica Renae Buxbaum
United Airlines awarded two hackers with one million frequent flyer miles each for uncovering holes in the carrier's web security as part of United's bug bounty program.

United Airlines

United Airlines awarded two hackers one million frequent flyer miles in domestic flights each to two hackers who helped uncover holes in the airline’s web security.

In an effort to solve their security troubles, United Airlines, the carrier offered “bug bounties” in which researchers discover cyber risks in exchange for the free mileage. “White-hat hackers” or the good guy hackers report bugs that could potentially be detrimental and exploitative before the public or “bad guy” hackers become aware of these glitches. The program, which has been running since May, is a first for the company and dramatically cheaper solution to strengthening cyber security than hiring outside consultants.

One of the researchers, Jordan Wiens who focuses on cyber vulnerabilities, was able to expose a flaw in the system that could have allowed hackers to take control of one of the airline’s websites.

United Airlines experienced a technical glitch last week in which all of their flights were grounded due to a network connectivity problem. The airline said the issue was not caused by hacking, but hopefully uncovering any technical glitches or holes could help United become a more efficient and safer flight provider.

"We believe that this program will further bolster our security and allow us to continue to provide excellent service,” United said on their website. 

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