Homeland Security hacked a Boeing 757 from the ground

A DHS hacker says he took control of a 757 remotely.
  • Speaking at the 2017 CyberSat Summit on November 8, a DHS official admitted that his team remotely hacked a Boeing 757’s controls over a year ago.
  • In his keynote, Robert Hickey said the hack was not performed in a lab, but on a real 757 parked at in Atlantic City airport, New Jersey, using “radio frequency communications.”
  • “We got the airplane on Sept. 19, 2016. Two days later, I was successful in accomplishing a remote, non-cooperative, penetration,” Hickey said.
  • Worryingly, he claimed he “didn’t have anybody touching the airplane. I didn’t have an insider threat. I stood off using typical stuff that could get through security and we were able to establish a presence on the systems of the aircraft.”
  • This type of attack has long been a concern. Back in 2015, the U.S. Government Accountability Office warned, “Internet connectivity in the cabin should be considered a direct link between the aircraft and the outside world, which includes potential malicious actors.”
  • At the time, U.S. Representative Peter DeFazio said 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.”
  • The same year, security researcher Chris Roberts got in trouble with the Feds for tweeting about hacking a United Airlines plane he was traveling on. Roberts claimed he took control of the navigation.
  • Boeing has stated its belief that the test “did not identify any cyber vulnerabilities in the 757, or any other Boeing aircraft.”
  • An unnamed official briefed on the test told CBS the results of a hack on such an old aircraft was good information to have, but that he’s “not afraid to fly.”

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