March 5 (UPI) -- A sophisticated cyberattack targeting an information systems manager that handles 90% of the aviation industry has compromised the personal data of hundreds of thousands of passengers around the world, officials say.
Authorities said the hack targeted servers at SITA, which hosts and manages information for Star Alliance -- the world's largest airline alliance.
Star Alliance has 26 member carriers, including United Airlines, Air Canada, Lufthansa and Singapore Airlines. Officials said the hack occurred on Feb. 24.
U.S.-based SITA provides information technology and telecommunications service for 90% of the global aviation industry.
"[We] took immediate action to contact affected SITA customers and all related organizations," SITA said in a statement.
The company said the cyberattack was "highly sophisticated" and noted that hacking activity has dramatically increased since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"[We] acted swiftly and initiated targeted containment measures," the company said, adding that it's receiving assistance from leading external IT experts.
SITA said it's informed various carriers about the breach including Malaysia Airlines, South Korean carrier Finnair and Air New Zealand.
It wasn't initially clear precisely what type of information was exposed to hackers. Air New Zealand told passengers in an email, according to The Guardian, that no passwords, credit card information or other personal data were compromised.
Star Alliance says it serves more than 700 million passengers each year.