Feeds

Delta hacked my email, says passenger rights chief

That's absurd, says Delta

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

An airline passenger rights advocate is accusing Delta Air Lines of hacking into her computer and e-mail accounts to sabotage her organization's attempts to mandate basic services during flight delays.

Kate Hanni, a resident of California, is the founder of the Coalition for an Airline Passengers Bill of Rights, an organization lobbying for federal laws that require airlines to provide bathroom access, clean air, and access to medical treatment when passengers are held up for hours on the tarmac. The legislation would also give passengers an option to exit the plane if they have been delayed on the tarmac for over three hours. Four versions of a "Airline Passenger's Bill of Rights of 2009" are currently pending before Congress.

In a lawsuit filed in Houston, Texas on Tuesday, Hanni accuses the world's largest airline carrier and an aviation consulting firm of conspiring to breach her computer and email in order to derail her lobbying efforts. She seeks a minimum of $11m in damages.

According to court documents, Hanni claims earlier this year she began exchanging emails with Frederick Foreman, an analyst with Virginia-based Metron Aviation who was researching US government airline surface delay data. During their correspondence, both swapped data and information about surface delays with explicit permission from Metron, of which Delta is a client.

Hanni said her PC and America Online email account were both accessed illegally this summer, with AOL confirming the email breach. Some of her data was copied to an unknown location, and other files were corrupted and rendered useless.

The plot thickens in Foreman's affidavit. He claims that on September 25, 2009, Metron executives confronted him with "what appeared to be hacked and stolen email communications" between Hanni and himself, as well as two media contacts. The emails were sent from his private accounts on MSN and AOL and not sent through Metron's internal email system, he claims.

Foreman states in his sworn affidavit that the executive informed him the emails were sent to the Metron from Delta and that the airline was "mad and upset" Hanni had been provided with the flight delay information. Foreman claims he tried to explain that the data was publicly available online from US government statistics, but was still fired and escorted off the premises.

When reached for comment, Delta flatly stated, "the allegation that we would hack an individual's e-mail is absurd."

Hanni claims Delta has a motive for seeking and destroying her data because if passenger rights bills are passed, airlines stand to lose over $40m in revenues in addition to millions more in accommodations for customers exiting planes during long delays. Currently, airlines are not restricted by law on how long planes can hold passengers on the tarmac.

A copy of the lawsuit is available here. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
Webcam hacker pervs in MASS HOME INVASION
You thought you were all alone? Nope – change your password, says ICO
You really need to do some tech support for Aunty Agnes
Free anti-virus software, expires, stops updating and p0wns the world
Meet OneRNG: a fully-open entropy generator for a paranoid age
Kiwis to seek random investors for crowd-funded randomiser
USB coding anarchy: Consider all sticks licked
Thumb drive design ruled by almighty buck
Attack reveals 81 percent of Tor users but admins call for calm
Cisco Netflow a handy tool for cheapskate attackers
Privacy bods offer GOV SPY VICTIMS a FREE SPYWARE SNIFFER
Looks for gov malware that evades most antivirus
Patch NOW! Microsoft slings emergency bug fix at Windows admins
Vulnerability promotes lusers to domain overlords ... oops
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Managing SSL certificates with ease
The lack of operational efficiencies and compliance pitfalls associated with poor SSL certificate management, and how the right SSL certificate management tool can help.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.