Saturday, August 01, 2009

DefCon Air Traffic Control Hacker: Excuse Me While I Change Your Aircraft's Flight Plan

Dean Takahashi writes on VentureBeat:

In a scary presentation at the Defcon hacker conference, a security researcher showed how easy it is to compromise the Federal Aviation Administration’s air traffic control system.

Righter Kunkel was careful not to show exactly how to bring aircraft out of the sky. But he showed how its easy to shut down information going into an air traffic control tower, jam radar, submit a fake aircraft flight plan, get recognized as a pilot even if you aren’t a pilot, and stop planes from taking off at an airport.

Kunkel laid out the process. You could get a fake identification (which is illegal). Go to the doctor and get an aviation medical certificate which shows you are fit to fly. With that, you can get a student pilot’s certificate number. Then you can log into the FAA’s pilot registration site. Then you can submit yor own flight plans.

You would think this stuff would be impossible in the age after 9/11. But then, it’s easy to believe, considering the plodding place at which the government is embracing new technologies, such as those that make government computer systems more secure. And the FAA’s priority has been keeping planes safe in the sky, not necessarily shoring up its network security.

More here.


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