Hartsfield-Jackson website restored after outage

Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

Websites also went dark at some other airports around the country

Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport’s website was temporarily down and displayed an error message for a period on Monday morning, amid reports of a hacking group targeting airport websites around the country.

The website of the world’s busiest airport was restored by about 10:17 a.m.

The outage did not affect airport operations, according to an airport spokesman. Some travelers use Hartsfield-Jackson’s website for information on airport parking lots and concessions, along with links to security wait times and other resources.

Some other U.S. airport websites were also down early Monday morning, including Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport, St. Louis Lambert International Airport, Colorado Springs Airport, Ontario International Airport in California and Honolulu International Airport.

The U.S. Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency issued an alert earlier this year saying Russia’s invasion of Ukraine could expose organizations to increased malicious cyberactivity. It said Killnet, a pro-Russian hacking group, claimed credit for carrying out a cyberattack against a U.S. airport in March 2022 in response to U.S. support for Ukraine.

On Monday, Killnet listed multiple airport websites in the U.S. as targets, according to reports.

Hartsfield-Jackson said it is investigating the cause. “We’re looking into it,” said airport spokesman Andrew Gobeil.

Such cyberattacks known as “distributed denial-of-service” attacks against websites “are notoriously easy and cheap to perform and more difficult to stop,” according to cybersecurity expert Roger Grimes.

The attacks on airport websites had minimal impact, but the goal of the hackers was to “try and spread fear and confusion,” according to Cybereason director of security strategy Ken Westin. “What we should be concerned about is that cyberattacks can escalate quickly,” he added.

The City of Atlanta was hit by a cyberattack in 2018. At the time Hartsfield-Jackson, which is owned and operated by the City of Atlanta, responded by temporarily shutting down its Wi-Fi and turning off tools on its website such as flight information and security wait times.