The world's second largest airline discovered the computer-systems breach in May and has linked the attack to a group of China-backed cyber criminals. The hackers are also thought to be behind the recent government hack carried out around the same time and the theft of medical data from health insurer Anthem (ANTM) - Get Report.
The data stolen from United include personal information on passengers, their origins and destinations, and suggest the team is amassing a large database of sensitive consumer information.
In late May, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management reported that security-clearance records had been stolen, the details of which would allow hackers to identify individuals working in defense and intelligence positions for the U.S. government. The China-backed team is believed to have stolen data from at least 10 major companies and organizations in the commercial and government sectors, according to reports.
United is one of the biggest government contractors, suggesting that the hackers may now be able to piece together the travel patterns of some government and military officials. The Chinese government and its embassy in the U.S. have denied involvement in the cyberattacks, saying it does not support the actions of the criminals.
The United Airlines attack has raised concerns about schedule disruptions or mistakes caused by hackers while navigating the large and sensitive systems. However, recent reports suggest that the hackers had been breaching the United Systems for months. The U.S. Transportation Command has been under repeated attack from suspected Chinese military hackers, leading to numerous breaches of military transportation routes and flight plans in 2013.