Sources: United Airlines hit with cyberattack from OPM hackers

The hackers responsible for the massive data breach against the U.S. Office of Personnel Management reportedly also hit United Airlines with a cyberattack, doing so at about the same time that they targeted the US government. The hackers are also said to be responsible for the breach that took place against insurance provider Anthem, ultimately leaving them with a massive amount of data on both government workers and insured Americans alike. According to multiple sources, United Airlines spotted a breach in its computer system in May or June, and the resulting investigation found the China-based hackers were responsible.

The information comes from Bloomberg, which reports that it got word from "several" knowledgeable sources, three of whom relayed information about the results of the investigation. The hackers, who are said to be based out of China, nabbed a massive amount of data on federal workers as part of the OPM hack, and have targeted other American businesses.

Sources say that some US officials believe the Chinese government has links to the hackers. At least ten companies have fallen victim to the hackers, and the data gathered could be, says the sources, used to fish for info on recruiting US workers with security clearances, among other things.

By hacking an airline's network, the hackers could gather data that would potentially grant them insights into the travel habits of US personnel — and in light of that it isn't surprising that United, one of the largest airlines contracted with the US government, was targeted.

Earlier this month, the airline was hit with a system failure that left many stranded, unable to proceed with their flights on time. Some have expressed concern that such cyberattacks against airlines could be the cause of these disruptions, but two more sources cropped up to say that United hasn't found a link between the July 8 tech problems and the hack. The outage on June 2, however, hasn't been ruled out.

SOURCE: Bloomberg