Posted on November 14, 2017 at 3:24 PM
A group of cybersecurity experts successfully hacked a Boeing 757 without the pilots’ knowledge.
The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recently asked a team of cybersecurity experts to hack into a Boeing 757 airplane remotely and to do so covertly. The team managed to do so while escaping the pilots’ notice. The team was made up of academic and industry experts and managed to infiltrate and hijack the entire airplane’s system within two days.
The hacking attempt was conducted last as a test and took place at an airport in Atlantic City, New Jersey. DHS got the airplane sometime during September 2016. According to CBS, the targeted Boeing 757 previously served as President Donald Trump’s personal jet, which often served to fly around other prominent White House figures such as vice president Mike Pence.
During last week’s CyberSat Summit in Virginia, Robert Hickey mentioned the team’s achievement. Hickey serves as an aviation manager in the DHS’s Science and Technology’s cyber security department. While Hickey did confirm that the team managed to infiltrate the targeted aircraft’s system using radio frequency communication methods, he was not able to disclose the full details of the test, since the test is still considered classified.
According to Aviation Today, however, Hickey did relinquish certain details. Hickey confirmed that no one on the hacking team was allowed to touch or be allowed inside the airplane to eliminate the possibility of insider threats. In addition, the team only used tools that would be traditionally allowed through airport security. Using these tools, the team successfully infiltrated the aircraft’s system.
The test was conducted while the aircraft already had its several security protections and threat detectors in place. There was also a Boeing official present during the test run. According to CBS, the Boeing firm released a statement which emphasized that during the test, there was no possible vulnerability of security flaw within the aircraft system which could have created a conducive environment for hacking.
While the hacking achievement is noteworthy, a Boeing official stated that this hacking attempt does not ring any alarm bells for the airline just yet. This is mainly due to the fact that the attack requires a highly sophisticated and complex attack method. In addition, the official noted that the test was conducted on an older aircraft system.
This test was likely to have been encouraged by events of 2015 when a hacker, Chris Roberts admitted to the FBI that he successfully hacked commercial aircraft almost 20 times. Roberts was subsequently arrested.