Cyber attack temporarily knocks O’Hare, Midway airport websites offline 


CHICAGO  — A cyber attack believed to be Russian-based impacted Chicago airport websites on Monday. Officials told WGN News there were no signs of impact to actual air travel, however.  

According to the Chicago Department of Aviation, early Monday morning, and related websites for O’Hare and Midway international airports went offline. The most significant inconvenience was for people looking for air travel information.

DePaul University aviation expert Joe Schwieterman says the possibility of a more extensive attack was concerning and led to the grounding of flights and other security impacts.

“The effort is to try to prevent the airlines’ system from operating, to sort of prevent services from happening,” Schwieterman said. “Even a small glitch would sort of be a major political win, you might say, for Russia, that’s determined to embarrass us.”

Shortly after noon, the CDA announced their IT staff had worked diligently to restore the website’s functionality.   

Larger airports across the country were also affected, like LaGuardia Airport in New York and international airports in Los Angeles and Atlanta.   

“We know that the airline system is uniquely dependent on technology,” Schwieterman said. “So even small uncertainties that someone can compromise can lead to chaos in the air system and I think here, that grounding the U.S. system affects the whole U.S. economy. It takes days to recover.”

The CDA says the Information Security Office at the Department of Assets, Information and Services is investigating the cause of the outage.  

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