Most Americans and citizens in many other parts of the world have heard of American Airlines and Southwest Airlines. Both airlines are well-known for offering a huge number of flights throughout the United States and in other areas of the world. These airlines receive a massive number of pilot applications annually, and the application process demands a large amount of information from these applicants. That applicant data was stored by a special third-party company for both airlines, but a recent breach has exposed thousands of pilot and cadet applicants and forced the airlines to reconsider how they handle applicant data.
Applicants to Southwest Airlines and American Airlines had their data exposed because Pilot Credentials was hacked by a group of hackers. The attack gave the hackers access to a large amount of data for applicants from both of these key airlines, and the organizations quickly stopped using the service and alerted authorities of the issue.
The breach first occurred on April 30, 2023, and the two airlines were warned about it on May 3, 2023. It wasn't until late June that American Airlines filed a notice with the Maine Attorney General's Office.
This pilot data breach impacts pilot and cadet applicants to American Airlines and Southwest Airlines. According to expert research, approximately 5,745 American Airlines applicants were affected, and 3,009 Southwest Airlines applicants were.
We don't know the specific details of how many files were involved in this breach. It was likely several different documents and forms for each of the specific applicants involved. That makes it even more likely that tens of thousands of forms and files were involved overall.