The competitive and cutthroat world of celebrity news coverage, media outlets are employing ever more daring techniques to get ahead.
But some Australian paparazzi have crossed to the line by illegally obtaining personal information from airlines carrying famous passengers, according to the Weekend Australian.
The paper claims that it was given screenshots of travel itnieraries for Margot Robbie, Naomi Watts, Rebel Wilson, Keith Urban and one of Urban and Nicole Kidman’s young daughters.
The Weekend Australian claims it received flight details for one of Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban’s young daughters. From left: Keith Urban, Sunday Rose, 9, Nicole Kidman and Faith, 7
Margot Robbie (left) and Naomi Watts (right) have reportedly been targets of airline hackers
‘This is an issue that affects airlines around the world and Virgin Australia is currently working attractive with a number of other airlines to advocate for our system provider to improve its audit controls,’ said a Virgin spokesperson on Saturday.
Wendy Day, who represents Nicole Kidman, said that is was ‘extremely disturbing that clients and families were being tracked, especially considering ‘the world we live in today’.
‘It is absolutely horrific for anyone to have their children’s safety endangered,’ Ms Day added.
Paparazzi have allegedly illegally accessed the travel details of Aussie celebs like Rebel Wilson
Other celebrity agents contacted by the publication said that the issue was well-known and wide-spread.
The global booking system, Sabre, appears to be the source of the bookings that were leaked – and it’s used by airlines and travel agents in every corner of the globe.
A Virgin Australia spokesperson said that the safety and security of of guests is their ‘number one priority’, while a Qantas spokesperson vowed to ‘immediately’ act upon any reported breaches.
As well as Sabre, computer experts have reportedly identified flaws in another airline booking system called Amadeus, which is the one used by Qantas, and claim that the flaws ‘leave them vulnerable to being hacked’.
The database currently used are called ‘global distribution systems’ and are used to ‘coordinate travel bookings between airlines, travel agents and online booking sites’ and six-character Passenger Name Record (PRN) is generated every time a flight booking is made.
A Virgin spokesperson said the safety and security of of guests is their ‘number one priority’
However, a German security firm called SR Labs discovered as far back as 2016 that PNR numbers are too easy to guess, making hacking private information a breeze.
Since SR published their findings, Amadeus has made modifications to restrict unauthorised access to stored information.
A spokesperson for the company said that extra security and ‘an additional layer of authentication’ had been implemented since the 2016 findings were published.
Virgin has likewise cracked down on improper usage and have placed restrictions on the number of employees with access to Sabre.
Meanwhile, airlines have also united to call for greater security, including fingerprinting to track who has had access to flight data.
The pictures of Carl Stefanovic kissing Jasmine Yarbourgh in LA sold for a rumoured $35,000
Celebrities’ travel itineraries can be a virtual goldmine once obtained – not only do they allow for the standard shots of famous people arriving at airports, but they also reveal details about their plans once they’ve landed.
The photos taken by Channel 9 of Carl Stefanovic kissing Jasmine Yarbourgh in Los Angeles sold for a rumoured $35,000.
But even season paparazzi have slammed the illegal practice, saying that ‘rouge operators’ who are ‘flagrantly’ breaking the law are ‘bringing the sector into disrepute’.
This was highlighted when photographer and Sophie Monk fan Jayden Seyfarth logged into a self-serve check-in machine at Sydney Airport and accessed the boarding passes of the Bachelorette and her beau Stu Laundy.
A photographer / ‘fan’ managed to obtain the boarding passes of Sophie Monk and Stu Laundy