This past weekend, I needed to book my travel for an upcoming business trip. When I went to purchase my plane ticket, I found myself unable to login to my account. Instead, I encountered an ‘Access Denied’ message. I’ve traveled extensively with this airline for a while, enough to earn elite status in their rewards program, so I’ve booked enough flights to know that this message was not the norm.
I tried a few other login methods, including changing browsers and using incognito mode in Chrome, but nothing worked. Deterred, I decided to switch from booking my plane tickets to making my hotel reservations and found myself experiencing the same ‘Access Denied’ message. Having now spent a lot of time getting nowhere, I started to worry something might be amiss with my accounts or laptop. So I switched over to my tablet to try to isolate the problem. Fortunately, I was able to log in to my accounts at both the airline and hotel chain on my tablet and finish making my reservations. I was also relieved to discover my accounts with both companies had not been compromised in any way.
The next day, I again tried to log in to my airline account from my laptop… and again failed. Curious if other customers of the same airline and hotel chain were experiencing problems, I looked around online. On Twitter, I found other users complaining about similar issues.
Based on these reports, and my own odd experience, I asked our security research team if they knew of a solution to the problem. They asked if I use any ad-blocking software and, since a few decades in the security industry has made me sensitive to online privacy and security, I confirmed that I did and gave them the details.