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Security Transportation

Chris Roberts Is the Least Important Part of the Airplane Hacking Story 200

chicksdaddy writes: Now that the news media is in full freak-out mode about whether or not security researcher Chris Roberts did or did not hack into the engine of a plane, in flight and cause it to "fly sideways," security experts say its time to take a step back from the crazy and ask what is the real import of the plane hacking. The answer: definitely not Chris Roberts. The real story that media outlets should be chasing isn't what Roberts did or didn't do on board a United flight in April, but whether there is any truth to longtime assurances from airplane makers like Boeing and Airbus that critical avionics systems aboard their aircraft are unreachable from systems accessible to passengers, the Christian Science Monitor writes. And, on that issue, Roberts' statements and the FBI's actions raise as many questions as they answer. For one: why is the FBI suddenly focused on years-old research that has long been part of the public record.

"This has been a known issue for four or five years, where a bunch of us have been stood up and pounding our chest and saying, 'This has to be fixed,' " Roberts noted. "Is there a credible threat? Is something happening? If so, they're not going to tell us," he said. Roberts isn't the only one confused by the series of events surrounding his detention in April and the revelations about his interviews with federal agents. "I would like to see a transcript (of the interviews)," said one former federal computer crimes prosecutor, speaking on condition of anonymity. "If he did what he said he did, why is he not in jail? And if he didn't do it, why is the FBI saying he did?"
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Chris Roberts Is the Least Important Part of the Airplane Hacking Story

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  • by ganjadude ( 952775 ) on Monday May 18, 2015 @05:36PM (#49721931) Homepage
    the real question to be asking is that if what the FBI is claiming is true, why has the FAA not grounded all planes of the same make yet? they have grounded planes for less in the past, the FAA doesnt really mess around
    • by qeveren ( 318805 ) on Monday May 18, 2015 @05:39PM (#49721953)

      I doubt what the FBI is claiming is true, but you gotta market the fear somehow.

    • by damicatz ( 711271 ) on Monday May 18, 2015 @05:40PM (#49721961)

      The FBI isn't claiming anything. The affidavit simply states that Chris Roberts told the FBI agents he was able to hack the avionics of the plane.

      Frankly, it's complete bullshit. The systems are completely, physically separate. There is no way to hack the thrust from the in-flight entertainment system because they are not connected to each other. The most he'd be able to do is turn on the fasten seatbelt sign.

      • by Mr D from 63 ( 3395377 ) on Monday May 18, 2015 @05:49PM (#49722017)

        The FBI isn't claiming anything.

        Exactly. They are just saying what they are investigating based on claims from Roberts himself. Roberts meanwhile has been anything but clear on what he's done.

      • by mcrbids ( 148650 ) on Monday May 18, 2015 @05:52PM (#49722029) Journal

        It's only bullshit if Chris Roberts was actually lying. And validating it is pretty straightforward: Did the plane yaw, as was claimed? Can Chris' software cause it to happen again?

        It's a pretty simple test. And as far as Chris' treatment, if he's been trying to tell people about this vulnerability and getting the cold shoulder, he's as innocent as they get and should be compensated for time served.

        • Planes typically yaw in flight all the time, it's called dog tailing. There is a number of reasons why, the main is thrust typically every aircraft dog tails, the second is a change in wind direction, could cause the yaw to change. It's possible he is misinterpreting flight dynamics with something he was attempting to do.
        • by JeffOwl ( 2858633 ) on Monday May 18, 2015 @11:30PM (#49723679)
          If he did this on an actual aircraft in flight (he didn't, it's BS) then he put the lives of everyone on that plane in danger. They don't let flight control software on a plane without a well understood pedigree for a reason and he was mucking with that. If he did this on an actual plane in flight (he didn't) he belongs in jail. If he didn't do it (he didn't) then he is basically confessing to a crime that wasn't committed, and perhaps he should be committed himself, that or the FBI is full of shit and it wouldn't be the first time for that. If the entertainment system actually has a way to send data to the critical flight control systems then a bunch of engineers and executives belong in jail right beside him, and throw in some FAA folks for good measure.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by nedlohs ( 1335013 )

        So if Roberts was telling the truth he should be charged for hacking the avionics. If he wasn't telling the truth then he should be charged with making false statements.

        Though of course the FBI will want to dig up evidence either way before doing anything. Even though it's obvious the second is the case. If a plane he had caused a plane to climb the pilots would have reported that the plane initiated a climb all by itself and the FAA would be investigating and probably grounding planes or having them disabl

        • by ganjadude ( 952775 ) on Monday May 18, 2015 @05:58PM (#49722061) Homepage
          he made it clear that he did so in a simulator, not on a real plane in the sky. the FBI is taking it out of context to scare people and the media is complicit in this as well for not doing basic journalist research
          • scare people

            Best Motivation ever. Slightly ahead of Procreation.

          • by Dunbal ( 464142 ) *

            and the media is complicit in this as well for not doing basic journalist research

            Nothing new here, lol. Status quo for the past couple decades or more. But hey remember that journalists are really HISTORIANS...

          • by msauve ( 701917 )
            Please tell, where can one find one of these things which accurately simulates in flight entertainment systems, flight control systems and the interconnection between them? I mean, apart from being an airline or aircraft manufacturer employee.
            • he is a security researcher, I would assume that he has access to that kind of thing
              • by msauve ( 701917 )
                Well then, I'll just assume you're wrong.
                • if you did your research you would see my assumption was correct.... the info was available for a while now
        • If he wasn't telling the truth then he should be charged with making false statements.

          You're so right. But why stop there? Not only he should be charged for making false statements, everyone who writes something false on the Internet should be charged!

      • by AK Marc ( 707885 ) on Monday May 18, 2015 @05:52PM (#49722033)

        The affidavit simply states that Chris Roberts told the FBI agents he was able to hack the avionics of the plane.

        It's not illegal to be "able" to hack something. A crime is an illegal act, done at a specific time and place. You can't charge someone with having killed "someone" unless you name that someone. You can't even charge them if you have a name of the murdered, unless you have a time and place named.

        You can get a warrant for someone "able" to do it, and they did. If they arrested him, the charge should specify what he did that was illegal, and when and where it happened. I haven't seen a pic of the actual arrest paperwork, but the media stated it was for hacking a specific flight. This means that the media reports are that he was arrested for actually having caused a flight-path diversion mid-flight by controlling (at least part of) the flight control systems from his passenger seat.

        • You can't charge someone with having killed "someone" unless you name that someone.

          Eh, I'm pretty sure you can. Here's one such case [baltimoresun.com]

          You can't even charge them if you have a name of the murdered, unless you have a time and place named.

          Again, that seems pretty unlikely.

          • by AK Marc ( 707885 )
            Nope. She was named, as Jane Doe.

            Again, that seems pretty unlikely.

            Sure, it seems pretty unlikely, but that's how it works. That was one of the delays with Hans Reiser. They "knew" he did it, but if they named a time, and they were wrong and he could alibi our for it, they'd never get a conviction. That's why they took so long, so they could narrow down the crime so they charged him with the right one the first time, or a murder could walk.

            • Nope. She was named, as Jane Doe.

              Which is not her name. Well, it might be, but it almost certainly isn't.

              • by AK Marc ( 707885 )
                I never said the person murdered must be identified, but that they must be named. The law handles it by naming unknown people. Note, the law doesn't require the name be real, or correct. Jane Doe identifies the dead body he's accused of murdering.
        • You can't charge someone with having killed "someone" unless you name that someone.

          Also, would not that someone have to be proven to be dead? The FBI claims that Roberts caused a plane to move in a manner that resulted from his actions. If someone can show the movement was in fact because of pilot action, or from wind, then there is no crime. Right?

          • by AK Marc ( 707885 ) on Monday May 18, 2015 @09:11PM (#49723107)
            Yes. If you are charged with the murder of Bob, by shooting him, and you can prove that he was dead from a heart attack, the most they can charge you with is desecrating a corpse, which wouldn't stick if you could prove that he was alive when you shot, and dead when it hit.

            Hacking doesn't have to have an effect, though. It's not a crime to make a plane divert. It's illegal to try, whether or not you succeed. So that's different.
      • by wonkey_monkey ( 2592601 ) on Monday May 18, 2015 @05:59PM (#49722067) Homepage

        Frankly, it's complete bullshit. The systems are completely, physically separate. There is no way to hack the thrust from the in-flight entertainment system because they are not connected to each other.

        What are your qualifications to be able to say so?

        The systems should be separate. There should be no way to hack into avionics. That doesn't necessarily make it so.

        If you really do know, then great, I am more informed than I was previously was.

      • by grimmjeeper ( 2301232 ) on Monday May 18, 2015 @06:14PM (#49722163) Homepage

        The systems are completely, physically separate.

        Considering that both the Avionics systems and the in flight entertainment systems are both able to reach the SATCOM radios, I'm not sure this assertion is true.

        I've spent a great deal of my career working on avionics systems and did work on early Ethernet implementations in the late 90's, well before ARINC came up with AFDX/664 standards. Back then we restricted Ethernet to single point to single point dedicated channels with no switching or routing of any kind. The first vague ideas of having an in-flight entertainment network were starting to form. But at the time, it was just high level R&D.

        From what I've been able to piece together is that Chris Roberts bought an under-seat device and hooked up something in his basement for proof-of-concept attacks into the avionics network. But without all of the rest of the equipment, he had to build up his system with commercial grade equipment. And that's where his "hacking the engine controls" story falls apart. Sure, he may have been able to get a specifically formatted packet through the IFE network and send it out the port that connects to the rest of the plane. And with his generic Ethernet switches, he may have been able to get that packet through to where he thought the engine control computer was. But his model is flawed.

        AFDX/ARINC 664 is an entire structure built on top of the physical layer of Ethernet. While it may use Ethernet frames to pass the data, there's a ton of bandwidth management and strict routing management built on top of it. Assuming for the sake of argument that the avionics network was indeed set up correctly, there's no way an engine control packet coming from the IFE network would be routed. The filters would see that the IFE port isn't authorized to send that data and it would be dropped, perhaps with an error log of some kind. The only thing the IFE network should be able to talk to is the SATCOM radio and only within very specific parameters. There's no way a properly set up avionics network is vulnerable to an attack like this.

        Of course, that begs the question. Did they set up their avionics network correctly? It's highly likely that they did, but I'm not going to say with 100% certainty that there are absolutely zero vulnerabilities. Suffice it to say, I'm extremely skeptical of Roberts' claims. But I will stop short of saying that he is, without question, full of it.

        • That's a great post, thanks
        • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 18, 2015 @07:16PM (#49722485)

          I've been to Roberts' lectures. There is a piece of information that he talks about but is left out his slide deck and other documentation that is missing in the media reports. That piece is the actual vulnerability itself.

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Great post.

          From the WIKI page on afdx, it appears that AFDX expects all systems are physically connected together, but logically separated by routing tables in the switches. The logical separation seems fairly simple, so maybe it is not hackable. But 'maybe' is not a good word to have to use for this sort of thing. Without more info, it seems impossible to say. This really makes Airbus saying 'naturally' we don't discuss this stuff counterproductive.

          The question is, from where he was able to connect, ca

          • Perhaps he setup a test system in his basement with normal Ethernet switches and was able to do something interesting that would not have worked in the air with real AFDX switches?

            That's where the uncertainty comes in. Near as I can tell, it's "very unlikely" that what he built could hack an actual plane. But I can't say with 100% certainty that he hasn't found a weakness that can be exploited. I doubt he has. But it is theoretically possible.

        • by AK Marc ( 707885 )
          The article claims that the actual lice hack was done with default usernames and passwords. If that's true, the CEO of the airline should be in jail for 10M counts of criminal negligence.
      • Frankly, it's complete bullshit. The systems are completely, physically separate. There is no way to hack the thrust from the in-flight entertainment system because they are not connected to each other. The most he'd be able to do is turn on the fasten seatbelt sign.

        Is the in-flight entertainmeny system able to show that world map with the cute little plane that indicates the planes position?

        I doubt they have someone copying the updeted position from the avionics system to a USB-stick, unplug it from there and plug it into the entertainment system to update position data every few seconds...

        There goes your "completly, physically seperate".

        Heck yeah, it's trivial to make such a connection reliably one-way only, but even then, "physically seperate" would be an outright l

        • All you need for that is a separate GPS unit.
        • by sjames ( 1099 )

          The best way to do that is using an opto-isolator connecting an RS-232 Tx from the avionics to an Rx on the entertainment system and push data across with no return path.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 18, 2015 @06:46PM (#49722339)

        According to Bruce Schneier they're not physically separated: "Newer planes such as the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and the Airbus A350 and A380 have a single network that is used both by pilots to fly the plane and passengers for their Wi-Fi connections."

        See also Figure 4 of this GAO report: http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/669627.pdf. There's a firewall protecting the command-and-control avionics from the passenger's network. Both the avionics systems and the passenger network utilize the same egress to the ground. Per the report: "Firewalls protect avionics systems located in the cockpit from intrusion by cabin system users, such as passengers who use in-flight entertainment services onboard."

        Older planes had physically separate networks. Newer ones, not so much. Of course, maybe the security is bullet-proof. Doubtless there are access controls at the ethernet layer much more sophisticated than your standard network. And it'd be very surprised if Chris Roberts wasn't lying or grossly exaggerating. But regardless the systems are _not_ physically separate.

        • That seems like a bad idea... Even if you can't communicate with critical systems, there could be the possibility of denial-of-service type attacks? And if the system can resist software-based attacks, what about a malicious user killing the network by somehow feeding a high voltage into a passenger-accessible network port?...
          • by dbIII ( 701233 )
            I'm not sure if that would be a problem due to the sort of redundancy where bits of an exploded engine can cut a lot of cables (A380) and there's still enough of a network to tell most of the systems on the plane what to do.
      • The FBI isn't claiming anything. The affidavit simply states that Chris Roberts told the FBI agents he was able to hack the avionics of the plane.

        This is the part I'm most interested in. Did Chris really say these things or did the FBI want to hear a specific narrative and perhaps twist or misunderstand his remarks about what he believes is possible into "something he did"?

        Chris isn't talking and I'm disinclined to accept FBI statements at face value. I will be very interested in hearing Chris's account of what he actually said to the FBI.

      • by sjames ( 1099 )

        The FBI got an actual warrant. mere capability isn't enough to get one of those. They have to allege that an actual crime has actually happened or is in planning. That crime (naturally) has to be possible. Further, they must show good reason to believe that the subject of the search is involved.

        Pie in the sky hypotheticals don't cut it.

        That doesn't mean it is actually possible, but it means either the FBI sincerely believes it is or that they are knowingly abusing their authority harassing an innocent citiz

      • Frankly, it's complete bullshit. The systems are completely, physically separate. There is no way to hack the thrust from the in-flight entertainment system because they are not connected to each other.

        Let's go to the actual claim he made which was recorded by the tech media, long before he was arrested for his tweet.

        He claims he was able to hack the simulator of a plane to access the thrust (not a real plane mind you, the simulator of a plane). Is the simulator as good and as realistic as he claims it to be? or not?

        Since you seem to be an expert yourself on this subject, please tell us. Are the electronics of the simulator he used a good replica of the electronics found on an actual plane? Or did the guy

      • by dbIII ( 701233 )

        Frankly, it's complete bullshit. The systems are completely, physically separate

        That's the sane thing, but then again the sane thing would be to not have a single Automatic Teller Machine connected to the internet.
        Are you certain that the systems are on networks with an air gap? Are you certain that stupid shortcuts (such as I've seen in POS machines and other stuff that should never be so vunerable as they are) have not been taken? While it should be the case that the systems are completely, physically s

      • by cgfsd ( 1238866 )
        At DefCon last year there was seminar on plane hacking given by what I consider a definite expert. He was a commercial airline pilot and certified mechanic and a computer hacker to boot.
        Other than the 777, the avionics of a plane do not use TCP/IP and therefore cannot communicate with a PC without a special adapter plugged directly into the avionics.
        Awesome seminar, but the speaker did bring up the potential in the future if airplane builders were not careful.
    • by Penguinisto ( 415985 ) on Monday May 18, 2015 @05:43PM (#49721973) Journal

      This, right here.

      Seriously - entertainment and flight controls on subnets that are reachable from each other? What the hell was the engineering team drinking/snorting/smoking/shooting that day?

      I'm thinking that due to the lack of an emergency TCTO* , and lack of any corroborating evidence (seriously, you'd think a pilot would notify *somebody* if his airplane did something way out of the ordinary like that, even if to report bad wind turbulence/shear/whatever as a warning to ATC and other pilots in the same path)?

      Yeah... not so sure the FBI's assertion holds that much water. Awaiting more evidence and/or corroboration on that one.

      * Time Compliance Technical Order - at least that's what the USAF used to call it. Dunno what they call it nowadays in the civilian world.

      • * Time Compliance Technical Order - at least that's what the USAF used to call it. Dunno what they call it nowadays in the civilian world.

        The FAA calls them ADs, or Airworthiness Directives... You must comply with them for the aircraft's Airworthiness Certificate to remain valid.

        An Emergency AD can be issued that takes effect right away, which is how the FAA often will "ground planes until they are fixed".

      • by john.r.strohm ( 586791 ) on Monday May 18, 2015 @06:06PM (#49722101)

        The corresponding FAA term is "Airworthiness Directive" (AD). An AD is a very big deal.

        The in-flight entertainment (IFE) systems receive navigation data from the flight deck computers so they can display the moving maps and other stuff on the entertainment displays, for those passengers who want to know "where am I", "are we there yet", "is it time to reset my watch because we've crossed a time zone and I'm trying to adjust my body clock".

        I would be shocked to learn that Boeing allowed the IFE to put ANY kind of data into the flight deck computers. I'd actually expect Boeing to use a one-way interface, one that transmits but does not receive: think RS-232 with one of the pins removed. I'd be almost as shocked to learn that Airbus did something like that. However, Airbus's comment about "firewalls" does not exactly inspire me to confidence in their airplanes.

        There's something else. If Mr. Roberts did in fact do what the FBI claimed he said he did, I would have expected the air up in the cockpit to have turned very blue, as the pilots said (screamed, actually) something along the lines of what the Apollo 8 crew said (screamed, actually) when their CSM did an uncommanded thruster burn. I would further expected them to take manual control immediately, get on the radio immediately, declare an emergency because of the uncommanded engine power setting change, and land at the nearest airstrip that could handle the airplane. I would further expect maintenance crews to pull the flight data recorders to find out WTF just happened.

        • The in-flight entertainment (IFE) systems receive navigation data from the flight deck computers so they can display the moving maps and other stuff on the entertainment displays, for those passengers who want to know "where am I", "are we there yet", "is it time to reset my watch because we've crossed a time zone and I'm trying to adjust my body clock".

          I would be shocked to learn that Boeing allowed the IFE to put ANY kind of data into the flight deck computers. I'd actually expect Boeing to use a one-way interface, one that transmits but does not receive: think RS-232 with one of the pins removed. I'd be almost as shocked to learn that Airbus did something like that. However, Airbus's comment about "firewalls" does not exactly inspire me to confidence in their airplanes.

          That is the concerning part.

          Are the systems accessible in the cabin physically and electrically isolated from all other systems from the plane? I don't think so. I think they are connected. And I think they are more connected that the companies prefer to admit.

          First, are the systems physically connected? My money is on 'yes', because of the very reasons you listed. The IFEs are able to get data from SOMEWHERE, the question is where that is coming from. In computer hardware it is extremely rare to make

        • Maybe a stupid question, but can't you modify the port driver/settings to broadcast data on the RX pin for most systems?

    • by Livius ( 318358 )

      if what the FBI is claiming is true

      It's not. They stopped bothering to pretend.

  • It's the Federal equivalent of, "I smell marijuana, I need to search your car."

    • by Dunbal ( 464142 ) *
      Federal Officer: "I smell marijuana, I need to search your car". Smartass: First let me search your nose officer. Hey come on I was joking put the gun dow BANG BANG BANG...
  • Hmmm... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Monday May 18, 2015 @05:46PM (#49721999) Journal
    It's almost as though the FBI is being hamfisted and incompetent again; but that couldn't be right...
  • by chris200x9 ( 2591231 ) on Monday May 18, 2015 @05:54PM (#49722041)
    I wonder how this will affect the development of Star Citizen?
  • Boeing Engineers... (Score:3, Informative)

    by mbone ( 558574 ) on Monday May 18, 2015 @06:08PM (#49722125)

    I have talked to Boeing Engineers about this in the past. They say that (both with present systems and new all IP based systems) there is a total physical and logical separation between the three types of networks on a plane (basically, pilot command and control, airplane maintenance networking, and passenger facing networking). They were pretty firm on this separation being inviolable, due to the obvious safety aspects. Either Chris Roberts is blowing smoke, or some pretty smart people made some pretty basic mistakes.

    • by grimmjeeper ( 2301232 ) on Monday May 18, 2015 @06:26PM (#49722237) Homepage

      Logical? Yes. Physical? No.

      Speaking as someone who worked for a Boeing subcontractor who designed their on board computers, I can tell you that there is a physical connection. There's only one set of SATCOM radios on board. The avionics systems use it for some of their communications and have for a long time. The airlines wanted to monetize the extra bandwidth by selling access to the passengers for a price. I am told they didn't add a second set of radios to provide bandwidth to the passengers.

      So at the very least, there is a switch that connects the avionics network, the in flight entertainment network, and the SATCOM radios. And while this is a physical connection, there is a fair amount of confidence that it's still a logical separation. The AFDX/ARINC 664 standard is pretty extensive and allows for very strict connection management. While Roberts may have been able to get a packet out of the IFE network and have it look like an engine control message, there's very little chance that packet would make it anywhere close to the engine control computer. Of course, that assumes that the avionics network was set up correctly. And that's a pretty good assumption given the safety requirements in place for avionics design. Still, there's that one in a million shot that there is an exploitable flaw. It's probably less chance than that, but it's not guaranteed to be zero.

      • by lgw ( 121541 )

        I suspect the truth is the following: he was able to hack flight control from the passenger connection in the simulation, because the security wasn't there or wasn't setup the same in the simulation. He says he hacked a simulation, not a real plane, so this seems like the most likely explanation - though as you say, it's always possible there's an exploitable flaw.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Specifically, I suspect he set up his basement simulator with a regular commercial ethernet router standing in for a real ARINC 664 / AFDX router. An ethernet router will route AFDX packets just fine, since they look the same, but it will also pass malformed packets, packets that are not in the ICD, and packets that are sent at the wrong time. A real AFDX router has a table of every packet that's allowed on the network, along with the specific times when these packets are to be sent, and it drops any nonc

      • by pspahn ( 1175617 )

        Still, there's that one in a million shot that there is an exploitable flaw.

        Of course, it's certainly much better odds than that if you're running a network simulation and have several ?'s on the topo for things running proprietary protocols you likely know not much about.

        Is there a logical separation at the switch? Sounds likely. What about the switch, does it have an admin login/password? If that switch is crackable, then the logical separation of the network is hosed.

        There's still the matter of crafting those packets so they are heard, and while I have little idea how to do it

        • A switch on an avionics system won't be like a typical of the shelf commercial router. There's no need to have a programmable router on an airplane. Once it's configured, there's no need to log into it to change anything. It likely won't have any administrative access for configuration at all. It will be programmed at the factory with the only option to reconfigure being a complete system software load.
    • by PPH ( 736903 ) on Monday May 18, 2015 @06:39PM (#49722301)

      Except that Boeing asked the FAA for a Special Condition [cryptome.info] to allow just such an interconnection.

  • by Ken_g6 ( 775014 ) on Monday May 18, 2015 @06:10PM (#49722133) Homepage

    "Stop: Fly sideways!" [tntmagazine.com]

  • "If he did what he said he did, why is he not in jail?

    Because, contrary to some opinions, America is not yet a police state, and they still like to have silly things like trials.

    And if he didn't do it, why is the FBI saying he did?"

    A better question would be "why isn't he saying he didn't?"

    • A better question would be "why isn't he saying he didn't?"

      So you advocate for that police state where anyone arrested is obviously guilty unless they prove otherwise.

      It doesn't matter why Roberts said what he said because he's not guilty of anything until he's convicted of it. He could be a blow hard, he could be a braggart, or quite simply the FBI could be taking statements out of context as Roberts has already claimed. None of it is relevant until he's charged and tried for the crime and I don't see him

      • So you advocate for that police state where anyone arrested is obviously guilty unless they prove otherwise.

        No, I don't, and I've never said he's obviously guilty. I'm not in a court of law. I'm not going to be on the jury. I'm allowed to express my opinion that it's a little bit suspicious that he's taken the opportunity to state it's "out of context" without stating "I didn't do it."

        And they are a people with the knowledge, not the FBI and not Roberts.

        Blowhard or not, I'm pretty sure Roberts is the one who knows better than anyone else whether or not he did this.

    • by jvkjvk ( 102057 )

      A better question would be "why isn't he saying he didn't?"

      Because the best thing you can do after being arrested is to shut the fuck up and not say anything else.

      There is absolutely no upside to saying *anything* else at that point.

      Besides, what would be the point of releasing a statement saying "I didn't do it."? Unlikely to sway the FBI and if you elaborate they may find something else to tag you with.

  • I would not be surprise that entertainment systems retrofitted onto older aircraft share subnets. Likely for battery BMS, fire safety, electrical shorts, etc.... Funny--it's actually the safety stuff!

    Sure the designers would never (even a practical person wouldn't do it) tie avionics to entertainment networks, that's logical and likely easier to do to keep them separate when designing an aircraft.

    But when you retro fit a 25-30yr old plane, it's possible nets cross lines due to time (i.e. competition w/newer

  • ...take a step back from the crazy and ask what is the real import of the plane hacking.

    I d'know... bears??

    (In addition, that statement is actually a question.)

  • Never underestimate the ability of non-security programmers and hardware people to overestimate their own security prowess.
  • by WD ( 96061 ) on Monday May 18, 2015 @09:03PM (#49723061)

    When doing security testing of any system, one must consider the possibility of unforeseen consequences. That is, while you think that your test may be harmless, you'll really never know this for sure until you perform the test. And even then, you might not know of all possible damage that was done to the system.

    Just as system architects and developers make certain assumptions that may introduce vulnerabilities, a security tester may make assumptions about the consequences of their actions. The problems happen when these assumptions don't map up to reality 100%.

    Yes, airplanes' computer systems should receive security testing. But to perform any sort of testing without authorization and when there are potential safety (human life) consequences is inconceivably irresponsible. Regardless of whether or not the tester suspects any damage will occur.

    • by dbIII ( 701233 )
      Hence doing it on a simulator. The next question is how good his simulator is and if the flaw exists on the real thing.
  • A steep price to pay. Hope his sacrifice makes air travel safer.
  • Obiligatory Xkcd http://xkcd.com/538/ [xkcd.com]
    If you see the explaination and think TL;DR read the xkcd it will explain too. But this below is why everyone is ignoring him.
    Once again this is nothing more than fud. its FUD because there isn't a way for him to alter them.
    He says he hacked into the actual flight controls via the onboard entertainment system. So I am going to explain how this is not on any plane outside a 787 or Airbus a-380 (both use an ethernet bus for the main connections between suites so a pers
    • by dbIII ( 701233 )

      He needs some serious time in jail

      Just for talking about it after playing with some rig at home? That's a bit harsh.

  • I saw the name Chris Roberts and got all excited this was about the Wing Commander creator. What a let-down.

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