New report finds vulnerability in some airplanes

April 17, 2015 Arctic Wolf Networks

The Wi-Fi networks that are becoming increasingly standard on airplanes in flight today could provide hackers with a way to commandeer flights or implant a virus in the plane's network, according to a new report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office.

In particular, the GAO found that three newer types of planes – the Airbus A380, the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and the Airbus A350 – are vulnerable through the in-board Wi-Fi, CNN reported. While the GAO did not detail specifically how these systems can be breached, the report did note that all a hacker would have to do is get past a firewall to cause havoc.

As more air traffic control systems and airplanes become IP enabled – a 2013 report from air travel platform RouteHappy found that approximately 38 percent of all domestic flights in the United States offer Wi-Fi, although that figure has likely grown significantly since then – the number of vulnerabilities present and the odds of such a breach happening rise accordingly.

"We've had hackers get into the Pentagon, so getting into an airplane computer system I would think is probably quite easy at this point," commercial pilot John Barton told CNN.

This GAO report highlights two common false assumptions companies always make about network security. For one, it shows that all a hacker needs is one poorly guarded endpoint is order for him or her to cause major damage. It also shows just how flawed firewalls are and why they cannot be the main line of defense an organization has in place. By instead opting for a managed SIEM solution for continuous, real-time network monitoring, organizations gain the ability to use big data security to quickly detect incoming threats and take swift action to effectively stop them in their tracks.

Cybersecurity news and analysis brought to you by Arctic Wolf, inventors of FireBreak detection and response security services. FireBreak, when your firewall fails.

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