WASHINGTON — The same Internet access now available on most commercial flights makes it possible for hackers to bring down a plane, a United States government watchdog has warned.
The finding by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) did not suggest that it would be easy to do, or very likely, but it presented chilling new scenarios for passengers. The GAO report on Wednesday pointed out that as airlines and the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) attempt to modernise planes and flight tracking with Internet-based technology, attackers have a new vulnerability they could exploit.
A worst-case scenario is that a terrorist with a laptop would sit among the passengers and take control of the airplane using its passenger Wi-Fi, said Mr Peter DeFazio, an Oregon Democrat on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee who requested the investigation.
“That’s a serious vulnerability and the FAA should work quickly (to fix the problem),” he said.
The avionics in a cockpit operate as a self-contained unit and are not connected to the same system used by passengers to watch movies or work on their laptops. But as airlines update their systems with Internet-based networks, it is not uncommon for Wi-Fi systems to share routers or internal wiring… …
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