An unnamed hacker stepped forward and pointed out how easy it would be for potential hackers to break into passenger jet’s system and force it to take invasive action, all from the comfort of their own home.
The anonymous hacker believes it won’t be long before a computer expert who is up to no good decides to use their skill to cause a disaster in the air.
Apparently, the ADS-B system, which is the system that is frequently used by websites for tracking flights and journey updates on board passenger jets, is easily accessible.
Because the system isn’t encrypted, it is vulnerable and any information could be inserted into it with no fuss. Hackers could send planes onto the wrong course with just as little as one false information.
It would only take one fake aircraft to be put on the map and it would make the real plane change their route in order to dodge it and avoid impact.
While forcing a jet to change its route could be possible in theory, taking actual control over a plane is a different story. According to a cyber security expert, it is nearly impossible to do so.
David Stupples agreed that it would be very difficult to do. Airlines are highly sensitive to this potential threat and because of that, their system is extremely secured. Plane’s controls are tightly connected to the ground.
Stupples added that if in theory, a person managed to take control over a jet, it would still be nearly impossible to make it crash. It would take an expert on aircraft’s control systems and the knowledge of pilot’s reactions.
This highly unlikely but still real possibility is explored in The Tunnel, a drama series in which a jet crashed into the English Channel due to hackers.
Germany is taking this potential threat seriously. It has been revealed that country’s cyber security experts are doing everything they can to secure that their fighter jets cannot be taken over.
According to Major General Ansgar Rieks, the head of the German Military Aviation Authority, it is of the greatest importance that the country invests in its cyber defense.
After seeing a demonstration that showed how budget friendly it would be to hack a supersonic warplane (only £5,000 worth of equipment) Rieks decided he needed to talk about this concern.
Only last year a loophole has been found in some of the systems which could grant easy access for hackers directly to plane controls.
In theory, all it would take for them is dimming the light, changing the announcements and altitude information.
With skilled enough hackers, expert Ruben Santamarta is afraid that the system wouldn’t be able to resist the invasion.