US regulator raises Dreamliner hacker risk fear
Regulators have expressed concern that Boeing's new 787 Dreamliner passenger jet may be vulnerable to hacker attack.
The US Federal Aviation Administration has raised fears that onboard computer networks are potentially exposed to tampering by passengers. Systems designed to give passengers in-flight internet access are connected to the plane's control and navigation systems. The two networks are not physically separated.
In addition, the plane's computer systems have links to an airline's business and administrative support network on the ground.
"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," the FAA warns.
"This is serious," said Mark Loveless, a network security analyst with Autonomic Networks, who presented a conference talk on the topic entitled Hacking the Friendly Skies last year. "This isn't a desktop computer. It's controlling the systems that are keeping people from plunging to their deaths. So I hope they are really thinking about how to get this right."
A Boeing spokeswoman told Wired that passenger and control networks are only loosely connected. Nonetheless, Boeing is working on a variety of modifications to address the FAA concerns including physical separation of the networks and software firewalls as well as more proprietary airline-specific technologies.
Boeing spokeswoman Lori Gunter explained that although data can pass between the two networks, protections already in place make sure that passenger internet services are blocked from accessing maintenance data or the navigation system "under any circumstance".
Tests on these systems, scheduled for March, still need to take place. Gunter added that Boeing had been working with the FAA for years on safety issues involving the Dreamliner prior to the publication of its recent "special conditions" document, a briefing paper produced by the regulator when it encounters unusual issues involving a plane's design. Given the pace of innovation in the airline industry such papers are by no means rare.
Boeing has taken more than 800 advance orders for the 787 Dreamliner mid-size jet capable of seating between 210 and 330 passengers and due to enter service in November 2008. The FAA will require proof that Boeing has come up with modifications that address computer security concerns before it licenses the plane. ®
DOS attacks possible
If the networks are not physically separated this leaves the eventuality of denial of service attacks.
Just get the first commercial passenger flight with most of the passengers using the internet and the plane will fall out of the sky.
B777, B787 and Airbus
> By Anonymous Coward
> Posted Tuesday 8th January 2008 02:11 GMT
Thanks for the overview of the Boeing B787 Dreamliner computer architecture. I know a bit about the B777, which has been flying for some years and in which the architecture is similar, at least, it has a dual Common Computer Resource. When I first saw the design, I thought at the time that there was at least a prima facie possibility that the in-flight entertainment could mess up the flight control system, but apparently the main CCR box has an internal architecture which is supposed to provide cast-iron separation between partitions so that a partition providing a flight-critical service cannot be interfered with by a less critical process.
Even so, I am surprised that this has now surfaced as a potential problem with the B787 when it was not raised when the B777 was being certified.
The Airbus A320 family, up to and including the A340, and I would guess the A380 as well, has a modular architecture, with 5 physically separate computer boxes in the flight control system (7 if you count the two flight augmentation computers, or FAC) and the flight management and guidance system (FMGS) computer boxes are physically separate from all of these.
Hacking the Friendly Skies
Lol, did anyone actually read the linked article by the 'expert' quoted in this story, that is supposedly "about the topic" of this article?!
Firstly its not even about the topic of the article, its a presentation about using WiFi to hack into other peoples laptops whilst waiting in the airport or whilst on the plane.
Secondly it looks like it was written by a 12 year old, I'm not sure about the journalistic integrity of using any source material that contains the following.
This is directly quoted from the linked article as things to do when you have compromised someone's laptop:
--- Quote ---
Change background image
Find pr0n on target, make that the background image
You’re backdoored the system, literally
Launch MP3s with Parental Advisory lyrics
Rap, death metal, industrial (make a political statement)
Launch when cluebag goes to the lavatory for maximum effect
Launch MP3 real loud that says, “wow this porn is hot!” and then launch hot .avi, .mpg, or .wmv
Launch MP3 that says, “how much for a lavatory quickie, bitch?” during the drink service
Install a server and serve up pr0n to the rest of the aircraft
--- End Quote ---
Hmm. Yes. Clearly a comprehensive work on the technicalities of hacking aircraft operational systems there, providing that the avionics run on porn that is.