Hacking the Dreamliner?

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Along with the standard spiels about exit rows and seat belts, flight attendents of the future might add this to their repetoires: "The captain has requested that all passengers close their browsers until he regains control of the aircraft."

Recently the AP reported on a possible unintended consequence of offering Internet access to all passengers on Boeing's 787 Dreamliner. Here's an except:
Before Boeing Co.'s new 787 jetliner gets the green light to fly passengers, the aircraft maker will have to prove that offering Internet access in the cabin won't leave the flight controls vulnerable to hackers and hijackers.

Boeing claims it has engineered safeguards to shut out unauthorized users, but some security analysts worry navigation and communications systems could be vulnerable.

"The odds of this being perfect are zero," said Bruce Schneier, chief technology officer at the security services firm BT Counterpane. "It's possible Boeing can make their connection to the Internet secure. If they do, it will be the first time in mankind anyone's done that."

But Boeing spokeswoman Lori Gunter said 787's aviation electronics "are not connected in any way to the Internet."

Boeing has designed the 787 to allow airlines to offer passengers more in-flight entertainment and Internet options than previous planes have allowed.

Those new features and other aspects of 787's computer network go beyond the scope of existing regulations, so the Federal Aviation Administration is requiring Boeing to show the new technology won't pose a safety threat.

In a "special condition" the FAA has ordered Boeing to satisfy, the agency notes that the 787 "allows new kinds of passenger connectivity to previously isolated data networks connected to systems that perform functions required for the safe operation of the airplane.

"Because of this new passenger connectivity, the proposed data network design and integration may result in security vulnerabilities from intentional or unintentional corruption of data and systems critical to the safety and maintenance of the airplane

."
Read the entire AP report here.

-- Ward

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