New Report: Hackers Can Use Airplane Wifi To Hijack Cockpit Systems

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via Flickr – Daniel Rehn

That in-flight wifi that passengers begged for for years could be used to hijack an airplane’s main systems according to a report out by the Government Accountability Office. The report was created for use by the FAA who’ve known since in-flight wifi became a thing that passenger wifi was integrated into a plane’s overall communications system with only software firewalls to prevent losing system control.

The GAO described the threat as “significant.”

According to Wired the danger is two-fold.

  1. A passenger using the plane’s wifi could subvert the software firewalls and take control of the plane’s instrumentation.
  2. An outside attacker could implant malware on a passenger’s device without them knowing and use the device to hack the plane’s systems as above.

This should come as extremely frustrating news for anyone who plans on ever getting in a plane and trusting their life to complete strangers. And while the technical expertise required to perform such a hack appears to be fairly significant one wonders why the FAA didn’t simply demand the installation of a second communications node separate from the aircraft’s main systems instead of integrating my Facebook lust into the integrated system required to actually fly the airplane and keep everyone alive.

And here’s a choice bit from the very front page of the report.

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via GAO

Yes, the FAA implemented this system without even having developed an idea of what cyberthreats they might face.

That should make you feel safe. TC mark

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