Kevin Gosschalk: How bots decide what you can buy and how much you'll pay

Everything you’ve been thinking is true, and it’s way more interesting than you thought. That’s because the highwaymen of today no longer hide in the shady corners of the Internet — they occupy major airlines and extort unsuspecting travellers (you!) by blocking competitive seats. They swoop in with millions of automated attacks that constantly reserve the most affordable seats on popular flights and force people to purchase more expensive airfares. This monopolizes the supply of tickets, while driving their demand to an astronomical profit. These attacks use payment redirections, like PayPal, and reserve seats indefinitely without ever needing to finalize the transaction. In a matter of seconds, every affordable fare can be tied up, preventing legitimate paying customers from being able to see, and book, these seats. And while all of this may sound extraordinary, it’s anything but uncommon in the ticketing industry – where rampant automation is big business for criminals and ticketers alike. This talk will cover a live demonstration of how bots exploit airline ticket sales and distribution; why ticketers knowingly offload their risk to criminals at your expense; what abuse cases already exist in other industries using the same methods; and a discussion on the future of human verification in the automation age.


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