FBI, TSA Issue Warning To Airlines Over Possible Flight Hackings

A week after a government report identified security weaknesses within the airline industry including the possibility that newer airplanes with interconnected WiFi systems could be hacked, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Transportation Security Administration issued an alert warning airlines to be vigilant about monitoring for such threats.

Wired reports that the alert, which was posed as a private industry notification, urges airline staff to be on the lookout for signs that any passengers might be trying to connect to the network ports located beneath their seats.

While the FBI and TSA say in the joint alert that there currently isn’t information to support claims that an attacker could override a plane’s navigation system through WiFi networks, they are further investigating whether such threats can be credible.

“Although the media claims remain theoretical and unproven, the media publicity associated with these statements may encourage actors to use the described intrusion methods,” the alert notes. “Attempting to gain unauthorized access to the onboard networks of a commercial aircraft violates federal law.”

The alert also advises flight crews to be on the lookout for activity involving travelers connecting unknown cables or wires to the IFE system or unusual parts of the airplane seat and evidence of suspicious behavior following a flight, such as IFE systems that show evidence of tampering or the forced removal of covers to network connection ports.

Additionally, airlines should be attentive to suspicious behavior concerning aviation wireless signals, including social media messages with threatening references to Onboard Network Systems, ADS-B, ACARS, and Air Traffic Control networks should be reported.

Crews should also review network logs from aircraft to ensure any suspicious activity, such as network scanning or intrusion attempts, is captured for further analysis.

According to Wired, the alert appears to be a direct response to an admission from a security researcher last week that he had connected to the network ports beneath his seat on more than a dozen flights to uncover vulnerabilities.

Feds warn airlines to look out for passengers hacking jets [Wired]

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