Airplane hacking panic! Why it’s a surely a storm in a teacup

There has been much media coverage of Chris Robert’s alleged claims about controlling an airplane in-flight. I haven’t bothered to link to them as they generally just re-hash what is already known and not known. But Iain Thomson got a more detailed response from those who are skeptical about Roberts’ claims:


At last year’s DEFCON hacker’s meeting Dr Phil Polstra, professor of digital forensics at Bloomberg University (and a qualified commercial pilot and flight instructor), delivered a lecture on the feasibility of in-flight aircraft hacking. It turns out it’s a lot more difficult than you might think.

Aircraft IT systems are built around non-TCP/IP protocols called ARINC, or AFDX on Airbus equipment. One of the key differences with this protocol is that it allows unidirectional data and will lock out a non-standard sending signal.

With regards to Roberts’ claims, Dr Polstra said that they were interesting and that he looked forward to discussing them with the researcher at a future DEFCON conference “assuming he is not in jail.” But the method of hacking seems unlikely.

IFE systems do receive some information from the emergency information crew alert system (EICAS), chiefly the aircraft’s location and speed for those little progress maps, but this data comes through a unidirectional Network Extension Device (NED).

Read more on The Register.

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