US Government Says Any Day Now For Hacking Of Airliner

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Eric Lieberman Managing Editor
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The U.S. government thinks a cybersecurity attack on an airline is imminent, according to documents acquired by Motherboard and published Wednesday.

The researchers for government agencies like the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) created presentations and risk analyses that explored and detailed potential vulnerabilities in the systems of commercial airplanes. They discovered, according to Motherboard, that a majority of such aircraft are not equipped with ample or proper cybersecurity safeguards. Their findings come after experts at DHS hacked into the electronic equipment of a commercial airplane as part of a September 2016 experiment, which was subsequently publicized more than a year later.

Probability wasn’t the only factor they studied; the ramifications and the degree of peril was also considered.

“Potential of catastrophic disaster is inherently greater in an airborne vehicle,” reads a portion of a presentation from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory of the Department of Energy, reported Motherboard. “A matter of time before a cyber security breach on an airline occurs.”

The lab went through with exercises earlier in the year in which it tried to use WiFi — a growingly available internet service on commercial airliners — to infiltrate an aircraft’s systems. The researchers’ varied in their success, but seemed to conclude that the potential of danger is significant.

It’s not just budding technology that could render an aircraft’s technical infrastructure dis- or nonfunctional, as an obtained document from 2017 says “early testing indicates that viable attack vectors exist that could impact flight operations.”

Couple the latest apparent discovery with the fact that the DHS in 2015 exploited the physical vulnerabilities of the country’s mandated ground security, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). Agents for the larger department, which oversees TSA, disguised themselves as normal passengers and brought various forbidden weapons to test the security officials’ inspection abilities. (RELATED: NY Airport Didn’t Have Access To ‘No Fly’ Terrorist List)

The results: TSA agents were only able to detect three out of 70 weapons, which is a 95 percent failure rate. The acting chairman of the TSA at the time, Melvin Carraway, was immediately reassigned, according to NBC News.

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