According to documents obtained by Motherboard, cybersecurity experts from the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) are fearing that hackers will soon find their way to successfully inflict attacks on commercial airliners.
DHS claims that most commercial airliners that are being used today lack enough aviation cybersecurity. A successful commercial airliner hacking will not just endanger the lives of passengers, but it can also have a significant impact on the economy as well
Airline hacking can create a public perception that riding planes will not be secured that can cause domestic airline booking rates to drop. Airline hacking can also cause disruptions to air cargo operations, both for commercial and military use.
Back in 2016, a team of cybersecurity experts from DHS had successfully hacked a Boeing 757. Using radio frequency communications, DHS cybersecurity experts had gained access and were able to control the aircraft’s cockpit control system in just 2 days.
“We got the airplane on September 19, 2016, two days later, I was successful in accomplishing a remote, non-cooperative, penetration”, said Robert Hickey of DHS’ cybersecurity division. “I didn’t have anybody touching the airplane, I didn’t have an insider threat. I stood off using typical stuff that could get through security and we were able to establish a presence on the systems of the aircraft,” Hickey added while trying to explain how they did manage to inflict the attack.
Despite Boeing 757 being an old aircraft model that is equipped with technologies no longer widely in service today, some prominent US airlines still use different models of the aircraft. Even US President Donald Trump owns a Boeing 757 as his personal plane. The American government also owns a modified Boeing 757 that was usually used by their vice president.
“I think we’ve come to realize that cyberthreat is everywhere,” said former FBI assistant director Ron Hosko. “My fear is that our nation acts most directly when they’re on the backside of a crisis. The crisis has occurred we lose a lot of lives and now we’re prepared to put money into infrastructure.”
With this terrible threat on aviation security that can make airline hacking a catastrophic reality, cyber security experts will continue to investigate and develop technologies that can prevent hackers to interfere and take control of an aircraft.