Technology / Planes could be vulnerable to in-flight hacking, says report

Planes could be vulnerable to in-flight hacking, says report

Hackers may be able to take control of commercial aircraft using in-flight hacking, a report from a US government watchdog has warned.


Increased internet connectivity aboard planes is increasing their cyber security risk, according to the study published yesterday by the US Government Accountability Office.

“Modern aircraft are increasingly connected to the internet,” it said. “This interconnectedness can potentially provide unauthorised remote access to aircraft avionics systems.

“As part of the aircraft certification process, FAA’s Office of Safety (AVS) currently certifies new interconnected systems through rules for specific aircraft and has started reviewing rules for certifying the cyber security of all new aircraft systems.”

It also warned that malicious passengers could potentially access the systems.

According to information security experts, although in-flight entertainment systems and those used to pilot the plane were historically separate from one another, IP networking may now allow attackers to “gain remote access to avionics systems and compromise them”.

“Firewalls protect avionics systems located in the cockpit from intrusion by cabin system users, such as passengers who use in-flight entertainment services onboard,” it said.

“Four cyber security experts with whom we spoke discussed firewall vulnerabilities, and all four said that because firewalls are software components, they could be hacked like any other software and circumvented.”

Some experts interviewed also warned that increased internet connectivity on modern aircraft could also potentially give hackers the opportunity to get remote access to information systems.

Read the full report on the US Government Accountability Office website.

Catch up on our coverage of The European Information Security Summit 2015.


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