Ruben Santamarta is a cybersecurity researcher who claims to have found gaping vulnerabilities in airplanes worldwide. He plans to present his findings at the Black Hat convention in Las Vegas on Thursday. The preliminary information that he has released looks to be terrifying.
Santamarta claims to have found vulnerabilities in the "firmware" of airplanes, the same vulnerability that I recently covered about thumb drives. Santamarta claims that these vulnerabilities could let hackers use an airplane's on-board Wi-Fi signal or entertainment system to hack avionic equipment as well as a plane's navigation and safety systems.
Keep in mind that Santamarta's hacks have only been tested in controlled environments so far. The focus of Santamarta's research is satellite communication equipment made by Cobham, Harris, Hughes, Iridium and Japan Radio Co. The hacker's initial reports explain the basic potential of these hacks, and he's expected to provide more details at the Black Hat Convention on Thursday.
I read the report, and the most shocking discovery that I noticed was the fact that equipment from all five communications manufacturers use "hard-coded" login credentials. That means that if a hacker cracks a single username/password combination, they've got an all-access pass to airline communication systems.
Check back Thursday for my coverage of Santamarta's announcement, and we'll find out how airlines should be protecting themselves against this dangerous breach.
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