Onboard wi-fi could open planes to hackers

15th Apr 2015
Written by: Dave Owen

Internet access on flights could allow hackers to bring them down

Are you sitting down? Good. It’s been a hard few months for fervent travellers, the news transforming itself into a seemingly interminable reel of plane mishaps and tragic accidents that could make even the most hardened jetsetter consider just staying home. We’re loathe to add to such doom and gloom, but some worrying news about commercial flights has emerged that can’t be ignored.

Most commercial airliners now come fully equipped with passenger internet access, allowing you to update your Twitter and post smug selfies on Instagram as your flight progresses. But a US watchdog agency has now warned that a plane’s internet could be used by hackers to access its flight controls.

“Internet connectivity in the cabin should be considered a direct link between the aircraft and the outside world, which includes potential malicious actors,” a new report from the US Government Accountability Office said.

It’s just one of a number of cybersecurity issues that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) needs to address as air traffic control systems upgrade their technology.

FAA Administrator Michael Huerta was quick to agree with the report’s findings. “This threat will continue to evolve and it is something that needs to be at the forefront of our thinking,” he told a US Senate oversight panel.

The report found that firewalls installed on planes to prevent hackers from accessing avionics could be breached if flight control and passenger-accessed systems share wiring and routers. A virus or malware on websites visited by passengers could present an opportunity for attack on a plane’s systems.

This is worst case scenario, of course, and following calls from US Congress the FAA will be working to ensure that no such vulnerability is ever exploited. Still, for now, perhaps make sure your phone is in airplane mode before you’re past the gate.

Search

Marine and Diving Internship

from £1805

28 - 140 days

Belize

Belize Marine Conservation and Diving Internship offers experience towards you university or college course! You can work in the paradise...

Professional Internships in Dublin

from £600

28 - 168 days

Ireland

Obtain a professional internship placement in Dublin that you will love, whilst gaining valuable work experience in a field that...

Conserve elephants in Southern Africa

from £980

14 - 84 days

Namibia

Help to conserve some of the rarest elephants in the world, the desert elephant.

Oktoberfest Opening Week

from £254

4 days

Germany

The largest beer festival in the world, held since 1810, Oktoberfest is an experience of a lifetime.The opening week is...

Combined TEFL Course Massachusetts

from £935

5 days

United States of America

Join our 5-day combined TEFL course in Boston and become a TEFL/TESOL certified teacher of English as a foreign language.

Volunteer in Construction and Renovation in Peru

from £270

7 - 168 days

Peru

Volunteer on the Construction and Renovation volunteer project in Peru. Located in Cusco.

Work at Whistler’s Tube Park

from £2495

150 - 150 days

Canada

Work for Whistler Blackcomb as a Tube Part Assistant this winter with Oyster Worldwide.

South West Ireland Adventure

from £599

5 days

Ireland

Valentia Island, Ring of Kerry, Cliffs of Moher, Dingle Peninsula, Inis Oirr

Sri Lanka – Medical Internships

from £1440

14 - 56 days

Sri Lanka

Join one of our medical internships set up to provide an ‘observational’ work experience in general medicine, obstetrics, maternity, ENT,...

Internship Manatee Conservation

from £1555

28 - 140 days

Belize

Improve your CV, add experience to your Uni or College course and have an amazing time in a Caribbean paradise!

Search

Paraguay – Asuncion to Iguazu Expedition

from £1715

Join Intrepid on its first foray into the very heart of South America – landlocked and seldom-visited Paraguay. It’s an off-track...

Machu Picchu Explorer

A wonder of the ancient world, the “Lost City of the Incas” is the ideal place to unleash your inner...

Hawaii Adventure – Oahu & Kauai

from £1999

Hawaii’s way more than just sitting on a beach. There’s natural beauty, welcoming locals, and, of course, world-famous waves to...

Northern Exposure

from £2024

Don't just take our word for it, come and see for yourself what a Scandinavia travel experience has to offer!...

Coast, Lesotho & Cape Town

from £715

From the warm tropical waters of Durban, this journey through South Africa’s mountainous Drakensberg region and along the picturesque Garden...

Best of Cuba Westbound

from £1334

From Cuba's historical streets of Havana to the pristine shores of the Caribbean, stroll through World Heritage cities, relive a...

Machu Picchu by Train Independent Adventure – Upgraded

from £639

This comfortable and compact adventure serves up Machu Picchu, one of the world's true treasures, in style. Embrace cultures past...

Barcelona to Berlin

from £1781

Discover European class and grandeur on this journey from Barcelona to Berlin. Begin the adventure in Barcelona and wander among...

London to Berlin on a Shoestring

from £2079

Travelling on a budget doesn’t mean you have to see less; it just means you have to plan more. Lucky...

The Lares Trek

from £729

There’s more than one way to earn your Peru hiking stripes. On the Lares Trek, you’ll get three days of...

Search
[contact-form-7 id="4" title="Contact form 1"]