Can a Cyber-Attack Bring Down an Airliner?


Speculation surrounding the cause of the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 hasn’t included the possibility of a cyber-attack, until now. A cybersecurity expert contends hacking an airliner is feasible.

“Bottom line: It’s not only conceivable, but Boeing itself has warned about it,” Carl Herberger, vice president of security solutions at network security solutions provider Radware, writes in a blog posted March 18.

Shouldn’t modern day commercial aircrafts be tested for cybersecurity vulnerabilities prior to granting airworthiness¬†certificates?

To be clear, Herberger doesn’t claim that a hack of the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200’s information systems caused the jetliner to alter its flight and vanish from air traffic controllers’ radar screens. But the former Air Force aviator who served as an electronic warfare officer on B-52 bombers and holds an engineering degree in aeronautics maintains that an airliner is hackable.

And, he says, that vulnerability is documented in a type of Federal Aviation Administration rule known as special conditions issued late last year and published in the Federal Register regarding Boeing 777-200, 300 and 300ER models.

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