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What we know about Russian ‘hacktivists’ and their strike on U.S. airport websites

Temporary website crashes could be inconvenient for flyers, but no lasting harm has been found so far

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Aircraft sit at their gates at Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport, in Atlanta.

In this Monday, May 9, 2016, photo, aircraft sit at their gates at Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport in Atlanta.

Mike Stewart, Associated Press

More than a dozen airline websites across the United States were knocked out temporarily Monday morning by a Russian “hacktivist” group.

The impacted websites include some of the country’s busiest airports, such as Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International and Los Angeles International Airport, NBC News reported. It also included various travel sites like Chicago’s general travel site, flychicago.com.

Per CNN, other airport websites affected were those belonging to Central Illinois Regional; Delaware Coastal; Des Moines International; Indianapolis International; Jackson Municipal in Mississippi; Long Beach, California; Montgomery, Alabama; Southwest Florida International; and St. Louis Lambert International.

ABC reported that important internal functions at the airports — such as air traffic control, airline internal communications and security — were not disrupted.

The pro-Russian group that goes by the name Killnet has been attacking allies of Ukraine since February, when NATO condemned Russia’s action against Ukraine, per ABC News.

Killnet took credit for the recent attack on the airlines through its website, where it posted a list of 49 total sites that were targeted. By calling on hackers across Russia for help, the group uses a method called “distributed denial of service” (DDoS) to overwhelm the servers with lots of fake traffic and crash the site, per NBC News.

“DDoS attacks are favored by actors of varying sophistication because they have visible results, but these incidents are usually superficial and short-lived,” John Hultquist, a vice president at a Google-owned cybersecurity company, told CNN.

The Transportation Security Administration told CNN that it will be monitoring the situation and working with airlines.