SpiceJet has reportedly confirmed a security flaw that exposed private details of 1.2 million passengers, including flight information. The information is said to have been found on an unencrypted database file after a security researcher gained access to a SpiceJet system by brute forcing the password. For now, confirmed details about the hack remain scarce, and the low-cost Indian airline has not revealed much in its acknowledgement that was essentially a boilerplate statement.
As reported by TechCrunch, the breach was by a security researcher who the publication is not naming, as they likely violated US computer hacking laws. The report elaborates to claim the researchers gained access to one of SpiceJet’s systems by brute-forcing what’s being termed as an “easily-guessable password.” The system contained an unencrypted backup file with private details of 1.2 million passengers.
The report adds the researcher had described their breach as “ethical hacking”, and had contacted SpiceJet, but never received a “meaningful response” from the airline. It was only after the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology’s (MeitY) Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) was notified, independently confirmed the researcher’s findings, and then alerted SpiceJet, that the breach was fixed.
We’ve reached out to SpiceJet to comment on the security flaw. With the researcher themselves breaching the system and gaining access to the database, the security lapse could perhaps be better termed as a vulnerability than a breach itself. It remains uncertain whether the data was leaked, or the ‘ethical hackers’ ensured that database didn’t get into the wrong hands, and responsibly saw that the issue was fixed.
Besides reporting that the airline confirmed the breach, TechCrunch quotes a SpiceJet statement in response, that says “at SpiceJet, safety and security of our fliers’ data is sacrosanct. Our systems are fully capable and always up to date to secure the fliers’ data which is a continuous process. We undertake every possible measure to safeguard and protect this data and ensure that the privacy is maintained at the highest and safest level.”