Black Hat hacker says he’s approached ‘hundreds’ of aircraft already in the sky

File photo.

(REUTERS/Kacper Pempel )

It sounds incredible: the ability to tap in to an airliner’s on-board systems such as flying thousands of feet above the head. But a cyber-expert is telling a security conference, he has managed to do just that — hundreds of times.

The Black Hat cybersecurity conference is currently being held in Las Vegas brings a variety of experts to discuss the risks, pitfalls, and locations of faults in computer networks.

Ruben Santamara of IOActive, says Forbes, has found a doozy.

He found a weakness in the satellite communication network that aircraft with a wide range of services — from passenger Wi-Fi by the weather.

He says that he is inclined to, he could look in every connected phone, tablet or laptop in the aircraft streaming overhead. And he did this by tapping into the antennas emit data directly in any plane.

While commercial aircraft on-board systems, remained of his immediate environment, Santamara notifies the access he received gave him the hypothetical power to damage specific parts of an aircraft as a satellite communications technology is allowed, is the transfer of energy via radio frequencies.

This could result in burns or damage to sensitive equipment, he said.

Forbes reports that the cybersecurity expert, as saying the satellite link faults enabled him to cargo ships and oil tankers. He says it also gave him the ability to track the location of supposedly Top-Secret military bases.

Santamara says that he reported his findings to the relevant airlines, satellite operators and government. Some exploits, he says, remains open.

“I think there’s still [open] attack vectors,” he told Forbes, warning of the shortcomings will not be easy to solve. “In certain cases, it is more a matter of design. It is not going to be easy.”


The mystery surrounding the strange behavior of Malaysia Airlines MH370 has led some to speculate on the Boeing 777 was ‘hacked’, allowing someone to remotely shut down the systems and guide it to the sea.

The Malaysian Government’s independent report, issued last month, dismisses this as a possibility.

Dr. Kok Soo Chon repeated several times in this afternoon’s press conference that “unauthorized” can not be excluded.

“We can also not exclude the unlawful interference by a third party,” Dr. Chon said.

“We can’t deny that there was a turnaround. We have not ruled out that possibility.

“(But) we are not of the opinion that this can be an event perpetrated by the pilot.”

He said systems are turned off. And make informed decisions.

“It is possible that the absence of communication prior to the flight path diversion is due to the systems being manually turned off, either intentionally or otherwise,” he said.

“We can’t determine whether the plane was flown by someone other than the pilot,” he admitted. “We can also not exclude the unlawful interference by a third party.”

But this is not remotely to hacking.

“There is no evidence for the belief that the control of the aircraft 9M-MRO (operating as MH370) could have been or was acquired from a distance as the (necessary) technology was not deployed on commercial aircraft,” he said.

This story was previously published in the

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