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United Airlines rewards hackers with millions of miles for spotting IT flaws

By Amy R. Connolly
United Airlines rewards hackers with millions of miles for spotting IT flaws
United Airlines rewarded two hackers with a million air travel miles for uncovering security flaws and privately disclosing them to the company. File Photo by Brian Kersey/UPI | License Photo

CHICAGO, July 17 (UPI) -- Two hackers scored 1 million air travel miles for uncovering security flaws in United Airlines' software systems and privately disclosing them to the company.

Through United's "bug bounty" program -- so called because it offers monetary incentives for revealing software defects -- the hackers will now be able to fly from the continental United States to Europe 33 times.

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United introduced its bounty program in May as the first of its kind in the transportation industry. United, the nation's second-largest airlines, began the program just weeks before computer glitches grounded the airline's fleet -- once in June and a second time in July.

While the bounty programs are common for companies that include Microsoft, Facebook and Google, the airline industry has been slower to catch on. Trade organization Airlines for America said it was not aware of other airlines offering such a program.

"Airlines take their customers' privacy seriously and take all necessary precautions to keep passenger data secure," it said in the statement. "Most, if not all, airlines have internal programs whereby they continuously check their systems and have teams that conduct intrusion systems checks."

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United did not release the names of the two winners, but Jordan Wiens, of Florida, tweeted last week that United granted him the bounty.

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