Federal investigators say in-flight Wi-Fi could be hacked to access planes' flight controls

April 15, 2015
GAO warns that wireless systems used by passengers on planes in the US could conceivably be hacked to access flight controls.

The BBC's US & Canada News site is reporting that "a federal watchdog agency has warned [that] wireless systems used by passengers on planes in the US could be hacked to access flight controls."

"A report by the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) said it is one of several emerging security threats not being dealt with properly, [which] comes as air traffic control is modernized to use satellite technology," states the BBC's report.

The reporting adds: "GAO investigators spoke to cyber security experts who said onboard firewalls intended to protect avionics from hackers could be breached if flight control and entertainment systems use the same wiring and routers. One expert told investigators 'a virus or malware' planted on websites visited by passengers could provide an opportunity for a malicious attack."

"Michael Huerta from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which oversees airspace, agreed with the GAO's findings and said it had begun working with government security experts to make the changes needed. 'This threat will continue to evolve and it is something that needs to be at the forefront of our thinking,' Huerta told a Senate oversight panel.'

As quoted by the BBC, Congressman Peter DeFazio (D - Oregon) said that the "FAA must focus on aircraft certification standards that would prevent a terrorist with a laptop in the cabin or on the ground from taking control of an airplane through the passenger Wi-Fi system."

In response to the claims, the U.S. Department of Transportation reportedly said that the "FAA was committed to strengthening our capabilities to defend against new and evolving threats with a high degree of urgency."

Full story:US in-flight internet could be hacked, watchdog warns (bbc.com)

[Ed. Note - Yahoo! News/AFP has also covered this story.]

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