Feeds

Boffins look to technology to thwart airline hijacks

What do you think you're doing, Dave?

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

Aircraft designers are looking to technology to combat onboard threats. Moves to develop technology in planes designed to foil hijacking began after the 11 September terrorist attacks.

Last week's arrests over a plot to destroy aircraft flying between the UK and US with chemical explosives establishes a new attack scenario.

Within around five years, researchers hope to install technology that will create a "last barrier to attack" by bringing planes with anti-hijack features into service on commercial routes.

The systems under development include surveillance technology that will warn of suspicious passenger behaviour (although the efficacy of this approach against suicide bombers is unproven) and override technology designed to make it physically impossible to steer planes into buildings or mountains. Further ahead, boffins hope to install technology that would enable a plane to automatically land at the nearest airport, though such systems are unlikely to be developed for at least 15 years.

"You never reach zero level of threat, no risk," program coordinator Daniel Gaultier of French technology firm SAGEM Defense Securite told Reuters. "But if you equip planes with on-board electronics, it will make them very, very difficult to hijack."

The Security of Aircraft in the Future European Environment (SAFEE) project, launched in February 2004, backed by Airbus and aviation technology firm BAE Sytems, is scheduled to last four years and has received €35.8m ($45.7m). The European Commission is ploughing €19.5m ($25m) into the research effort. It's hoped that aircraft featuring anti-hijack technology developed by the project will go into service sometime between 2010 and 2012.

Many of the systems are designed to complement physical security improvements (such as reinforced cockpit doors) introduced since 11 September. Technologies under development include: a tagging system to match passengers and their luggage, biometric systems to verify that a passenger entering an aircraft is the same person who checked in, a Threat Assessment and Response Management System (TARMS) designed to help aircrew to develop appropriate responses to onboard threats, more secure communication system, biometric sensors on cockpit doors, and an automated collision avoidance system.

Close surveillance of passengers raises privacy concerns, but the backers of the project reckon passengers will accept more invasive monitoring for the sake of improved security.

The sensitivity of the system can be adjusted as threat levels vary. That still leaves the possibility of false alarms, but backers of the systems suggest that because pilots and aircrew remain in ultimate control of systems the effect of bogus warnings will be minimised. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Ice cream headache as black hat hacks sack Dairy Queen
I scream, you scream, we all scream 'DATA BREACH'!
Goog says patch⁵⁰ your Chrome
64-bit browser loads cat vids FIFTEEN PERCENT faster!
NIST to sysadmins: clean up your SSH mess
Too many keys, too badly managed
Scratched PC-dispatch patch patched, hatched in batch rematch
Windows security update fixed after triggering blue screens (and screams) of death
Researchers camouflage haxxor traps with fake application traffic
Honeypots sweetened to resemble actual workloads, complete with 'secure' logins
Attack flogged through shiny-clicky social media buttons
66,000 users popped by malicious Flash fudging add-on
New Snowden leak: How NSA shared 850-billion-plus metadata records
'Federated search' spaffed info all over Five Eyes chums
Three quarters of South Korea popped in online gaming raids
Records used to plunder game items, sold off to low lifes
Oz fed police in PDF redaction SNAFU
Give us your metadata, we'll publish your data
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Advanced data protection for your virtualized environments
Find a natural fit for optimizing protection for the often resource-constrained data protection process found in virtual environments.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.