Planes could be controlled by passengers because of airplane Wi-Fi vulnerability, warns US Watchdog

Wifi systems that are utilized by the travelers on Airplanes in the United States could be compromised to get access to Airplane controls, American watchdog company has warned.

GAO (Government Accountability Office) of US reported that, it is one of many alarming security dangers not being split with accurately. GAO doesn’t think it would be easy to handle however it plugs out that the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) and the airlines try to modernize flight tracking and airplanes with virtual based technology, hackers have a fresh vulnerability they could abuse.

GAO researchers spoke to cyber security investigators who stated on-board firewalls planned to defend avionics from attackers could be compromised if plane entertainment and control systems use the same routers and wiring.

The GAO says: “Modern aircraft are increasingly connected to the internet. This interconnections can potentially provide unauthorized remote access to aircraft avionics systems”.

An expert told researchers “a malware or virus” embedded on the sites visited by travelers could offer a chance for a malicious attack.

The report said, “Internet connectivity in the cabin should be considered a direct link between the aircraft and the outside world, which includes potential malicious actors”,

The report highlights the point that cockpit electronics are ultimately linked to the traveler cabin via shared IP networks. The link between the avionics and the traveler accessible systems of the flight is comprehensively moderated by firewalls, however online security experts have highlighted that firewalls, just similar to software, cannot ever be expected to be completely foolproof.

The report also adds, “According to cybersecurity experts we interviewed, internet connectivity in the cabin should be considered a direct link between the aircraft and the outside world, which includes potential malicious actors”.

GAO report also stated that in spite of the FAA actions to shield air traffic control systems from the hackers, particularly remain weak. An area of flaw is the capability to detect and prevent illegal access to the huge network of communication and computer system the FAA uses to track and process planes around the globe, the report said.

Peter DeFazio, an Oregon Democrat said, a most horrible case situation is that an extremist with a laptop would be seated inbetween the travelers and control the flight via passenger wi-fi. Peter DeFazio is the person who demanded the investigation.

DeFzio said, “That’s a serious vulnerability, and FAA should work quickly” to fix the problem.”

Nowadays hackers are attacking the airplane industry, in the beginning of January they attacked on Malaysia Airline, and on last Tuesday the Australian Airport website was compromised by a Bangladeshi hacker. So, some prompt actions are required here to overcome the issue on ASAP basis – or else, the outcome could be grave!

In the beginning of the year 2015, the GAO admired the FAA for taking measures to shield air traffic controllers, however informed that, “significant security control weaknesses remain that threaten the [FAA’s] ability to ensure the safe and uninterrupted operation of the national airspace system”.

Top/Featured Image: By Gietje (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Ali Raza Ali is a freelance journalist, having 5 years of experience in web journalism and marketing. He contributes to various online publications. With a Master degree, now he combines his passions for writing about internet security and technology for SecurityGladiators. When he is not working, he loves traveling and playing games.
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