Chinese hackers have reportedly compromised announcement systems at major airports in Vietnam.
Such attacks, albeit unusual, can cause chaos at important transport hubs across the world and potentially prompt delays, flight cancellations, and even heightened security alerts, considering how many terrorism-related attacks are now occurring worldwide.
According to local media Tuoi Tre News, on Friday, flight information screens at both Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi and Tan Son Nhat International Airport in Ho Chi Minh City were compromised, resulting in the display of profanity and offensive messages in English against Vietnam and the Philippines. Glitches and errors were also noticed at other airports.
The Deputy Minister of Transport Nguyen Nhat confirmed the attack, claiming that law enforcement managed to block the cyberattackers from causing further damage.
However, many airlines operating out of 21 airports in the country were forced to shut down check-in counters and switch to manual methods to keep flights on schedule.
"All Internet systems have been switched off so we had to do everything by hand," one Tan Son Nhat airport airline attendant told the publication.
According to an image of the offensive announcements, the hackers claiming responsibility for the attack are the China 1937CN Team.
A source told the publication that the personal data of roughly 411,000 passengers had also been exposed due to the hack of a Vietnamese airlines' website at the same time.
"We are trying to restore data and cannot comment at the moment whether the data has been leaked to outside sources," the source added.
The attacks took place after a ruling by a UN-backed tribunal, dismissed Chinese claims to the East Vietnam Sea, which in turn has angered Beijing.
China 1937CN Team displayed "warning messages" related to this dispute, criticizing both Vietnam and the Philippines. The group has also claimed responsibility for taking down approximately 1,000 Vietnamese websites last year.