Frequent Flyer

Frequent Flyer Program Hacked. Is Your Info Safe?

If hackers can breach the customer-data systems of Target and Home Depot, they can probably find a way into your loyalty-program’s server. How secure is your information?

Recent breaches of the customer databases of such mainstream businesses as Home Depot and Target naturally raise questions about the security of consumers’ frequent-traveler accounts. Is your personal information safe?

Although such breaches seem to be rare, it’s a safe bet that there’s more activity in this area than program operators let on. And it’s a global problem, as the following incident illustrates.

According to the Japan Times, hackers have stolen the personal records of as many as 750,000 members of Japan Airlines’ loyalty program, JAL Mileage Bank. The airline’s computers were found to be infected with a virus that had been sending customer information to an unauthorized server in Hong Kong for more than a month.

JAL Mileage Bank profiles include contact information, plus username and PIN. JAL has not indicated whether members’ financial information was also compromised, through associated sales records for example.

This is not the first time JAL has been hacked. Earlier this year, cybercriminals were able to illicitly redeem the airline’s frequent-flyer miles for Amazon gift coupons worth millions of yen.

Bottom line: Don’t assume your frequent-flyer account is secure. And take the normal precautions when it comes to cybersecurity, including the following:

  • Provide as little information as possible when signing up.
  • Use passwords with alpha, numeric, and special characters.
  • Change your password regularly.
  • Regularly monitor your account for signs of unauthorized activity.

Reader Reality Check

Has your frequent-traveler account ever been hacked?

This article originally appeared on

By Tim Winship

After 20 years working in the travel industry, and 15 years writing about it, Tim Winship knows a thing or two about travel. Follow him on Twitter @twinship.

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