Major Privacy and Security Concerns at Southwest Airlines

Essay by adharviUniversity, Master'sA+, July 2004

download word file, 3 pages 3.0

Southwest Airlines has to deal with one of the main privacy/security concerns that face the entire airline industry today, protection of customer information. This concern has really become an important issue since the airline industry began using E-Commerce to offer a convenient way to receive advertisement and make travel reservations over the Internet. Two notable incidents that concern privacy/security in the airline industry occurred with Trans World Airlines (TWA) and Northwest Airlines.

First of all according to CNET, "Trans World Airlines is bracing for turbulence after the company inadvertently included subscribers' email addresses in an electronic bulletin--potentially leaking valuable information to marketers and spammers.

TWA began sending the weekly "Dot Com Deals" last night when a staff member noticed each bulletin listed hundreds of customers' individual email addresses. Typically, subscribers cannot see the addresses of other recipients.

By the time TWA programmers could resolve the problem late last night, the email addresses of 80 percent of TWA's subscribers had been disclosed, according to the company.

None of the people who received the TWA bulletin received a complete list of all other subscribers. Instead, most received a chunk of addresses close to their own in an alphabetical list. For example, a subscriber whose email address started with "jon" could have received dozens of email addresses beginning with the letters "jo."

TWA would not disclose the number of subscribers to its bulletin. But spokesman Mark Abels called the number "significant."

"It was obviously a mistake, and we're correcting it, and it won't happen again," Abels said from the company's headquarters in St. Louis. "We apologize. It's not appropriate, and it's not the way we normally do business."

Customers' credit card information, buying habits and physical addresses were not disclosed. But the breach could provide savvy marketers with coveted contact...