60,000 American Airlines Advantage Miles Stolen From a Hacker


In a recent incident, an American Airlines frequent flyer fell victim to a hacker who stole over 60,000 AAdvantage miles from her account. The stolen miles, estimated to be worth around $1,400, prompted the victim to report the fraudulent activity to the Riley County Police Department. This unfortunate incident highlights the need for enhanced data security measures to protect valuable airline rewards. In this article, we delve into the details of the incident and provide tips on safeguarding your travel rewards.

The Incident

On August 2nd, a 32-year-old woman reported the hacking of her American Airlines account to the Riley County Police Department. The unknown perpetrator managed to steal 63,300 miles, equivalent to approximately $1,416. Authorities are urging anyone with information related to the incident to come forward through the anonymous Crime Stoppers portal, which offers potential rewards of up to $1,000 for valuable tips. Sadly, this case is not an isolated occurrence, as numerous American Airlines frequent flyers have reported similar incidents in recent years.

Image via: VMware Blogs

The Importance of Enhanced Security

Today, widespread access to public networks, such as those found in airports and aboard aircraft, has become a norm. While convenient, these networks may lack adequate security measures, making users vulnerable to hacking attempts. Disturbingly, there have been documented cases of aircraft being hacked, both in-flight and when grounded at gates. These incidents have raised concerns regarding the safety of onboard connectivity and the potential risks associated with it.

Lessons from Past Experiments

In 2016, the US Department of Homeland Security conducted an experiment to test the feasibility of hacking an aircraft. Surprisingly, their team successfully hacked into a Boeing 757 while it was on the ground in Atlantic City. This breakthrough shattered the industry’s previous belief that such hacking was not possible, sparking crucial discussions on onboard connectivity and flight safety. Furthermore, during a cybersecurity conference in 2018, a member of IOActive demonstrated how he could remotely hack into hundreds of aircraft using satellite equipment vulnerabilities, emphasizing the need for robust security measures.

Protecting Your Data

While the risk of hacking exists, travelers can adopt certain practices to minimize their exposure and protect their data. The Washington Post suggests the following tips:

  • Verify Network Authenticity: When connecting to public networks, particularly at airports, ensure that you are connecting to the official network and not falling prey to similarly named networks set up by hackers.
  • Avoid Sensitive Logins: Refrain from logging into accounts containing sensitive information while connected to public networks. This precaution reduces the risk of exposing personal data to potential hackers.
  • Utilize VPN Services: Deploying a Virtual Private Network (VPN) adds an additional layer of security by encrypting inbound and outbound data from your devices. VPNs help safeguard your online activities, including accessing travel reward accounts, even on public networks.
Image via freepik

The recent incident of stolen American Airlines AAdvantage miles serves as a reminder of the importance of data security when it comes to protecting valuable travel rewards. By following best practices, such as verifying network authenticity, avoiding sensitive logins on public networks, and utilizing VPN services, travelers can significantly reduce the risk of falling victim to hackers. As technology advances, it is vital for individuals and organizations to prioritize data protection to ensure safe and secure travel experiences.

Have you ever experienced any unauthorized activity or hacking attempts on your airline rewards or loyalty program accounts?

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