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United Airlines changes cockpit codes after exposure on public website

United Airlines changes cockpit codes after exposure on public website
United Airlines is changing the keypad codes used to open cockpit doors after they were accidentally posted on a public website. An airline spokeswoman said the breach wasn’t the result of a hack.

"We are working to change the codes on all of our aircraft," United Airlines spokeswoman Maddie King said Monday, according to AP.

King confirmed that the breach was not the result of a hack attack and did not cause any flights to be delayed or canceled.

The Wall Street Journal reported the breach was caused by a United Airlines flight attendant posting information online which included cockpit security codes over the weekend, leading to security concerns.

Cockpit doors were reinforced and security measures enhanced after the 9/11 hijackings, which occurred when terrorists took control of four planes owned by United and American Airlines leading the deaths of nearly 3,000 people, and injuring 6,000 others.

The Chicago-based airliner said they had a sent a memo to pilots about alternative security measures over the weekend, including visually confirming someone’s identity before they are allowed onto the flight deck.

The airline changes access codes periodically but scrambled to change them immediately over the weekend after it learned of the breach.

The Air Line Pilots Association on Sunday said the problem had been fixed.

Airlines have procedures for opening the cockpit door, such as when a pilot needs to use a restroom in the main cabin. Flight attendants will often use a beverage cart to block the aisle until the door can be closed.

The union has lobbied for legislation in Congress that would require the lightweight screen barriers, which it says would cost $5,000 per plane and slow down would-be hijackers long enough for air marshals or other passengers to stop them. United installed the screens on some planes after 9/11 but removed them in 2012 to reduce costs, according to the union.

The 2015 Germanwings crash, in which a plane was deliberately flown into a mountain by a pilot who had locked his co-pilot out of the flight deck, highlighted the potential drawbacks of impenetrable cockpit doors if additional safety procedures are not put in place.

These include not allowing someone to be left alone in the cockpit, a Federal Aviation Administration policy that was also adopted by German airlines after the crash.

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