Security Researcher Hacks Flight System to Control a Jet
A security researcher managed to “hijack” a flight deck system and change a plane’s course in a hacking skill demonstration, according to the BBC. Hugo Teso, an authorized pilot, gave the aviation computer systems new navigation instructions. He then gained total control of the simulated jet he had built using spare parts bought from eBay.
“I expected them to have security issues but I did not expect them to be so easy to spot,” Hugo Teso told the BBC. “I thought I would have to fight hard to get into them but it was not that difficult. I can influence the guidance and navigation of the aircraft.”
The attack toolkit, dubbed SIMON, along with the PlaneSploit Android app, allegedly influence the aircraft system as if it were “in flight.” Aviation authorities don’t believe authentic flight computers are so vulnerable in the real world, but they are eager to find out more about the research.
“This presentation was based on a PC training simulator and did not reveal potential vulnerabilities on actual flying systems,” the European Aviation and Safety Agency said. “There are major differences between a PC-based training FMS software and an embedded FMS software.”
The vulnerabilities of the flight deck computers were detailed at the Hack In The Box conference in Amsterdam. The researcher spent four years investigating flight computer and data systems. He admitted the system has “limitations,” as “it requires some careful planning and timing to achieve results.”