Russian hackers target major airports as they pay tribute to US ‘Hunger Games’

Russian hackers target major airports as they pay tribute to US ‘Hunger Games’

A pro-Russian hacking group said it targeted dozens of US airport websites on Monday, amid continued tensions between Russia and Western countries.

In a Telegram post, Killnet offered a list of airport websites targeted by hackers, including Chicago O’Hare International Airport and Los Angeles International Airport. A subsequent post from the hacker group depicted what appeared to be a still image from The death games film series with text that reads: “Let The Hunger Games Begin in USA 2022.”

CNN reported that more than a dozen airport websites appeared to be unavailable Monday morning, but no immediate impact on actual airport operations was apparent.

When Newsweek attempted to navigate some of the sites listed by Killnet, many appeared to function normally. However, there were a couple of sites, such as those for O’Hare and Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport, which Newsweek could not get in immediately.

Russian hacker list LAX website
Above, people are seen at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) in Los Angeles on August 10. The LAX website was part of a list that a pro-Russian hacking group said it had targeted on Monday, although the website appeared to be operating normally by early Monday afternoon.
Chris Delmas/AFP via Getty Images

Killnet’s list of goals did not include an explanation of what it was trying to achieve by encouraging hackers to take down the sites. The alleged hacking push came as Russia’s ongoing war with Ukraine has continued to strain relations between Russian President Vladimir Putin’s regime and the West. The United States and other Western countries have repeatedly condemned Putin’s invasion and imposed severe sanctions on Moscow to isolate the country economically.

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In an earlier post on Monday, Killnet wrote that America’s “civilian network sector is not secure,” and alleged that Congress only cares about money and not the nation’s people.

Killnet wrote in another Telegram post before sharing the long list of airports that it invited people to “commit DDoS [distributed denial of service] on the civilian network infrastructure of the United States.” It encouraged hackers to target all airports, marine terminals, logistics facilities, weather monitoring centers, health care, subways, and online commerce systems.

A DDoS attack, according to content delivery network Cloudflare, is a “malicious attempt to disrupt the normal traffic of a targeted server, service or network by overwhelming the target or its surrounding infrastructure with a flood of Internet traffic.”

Meanwhile, Killnet claimed responsibility last week for the temporary shutdown of several US government websites, as well as for a cyber attack in August against the US military company Lockheed Martin.

Newsweek contacted the Chicago Department of Aviation and Atlanta’s Department of Aviation for comment.

Update 10/10/22, 1:30 PM ET: This story was updated with additional information and background.

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