What would you do if you had to travel from Delhi to Mumbai and you didn’t have an entire day to spare? You’d probably hop on a flight be done with it. But what if we told you that flights aren’t as safe as you imagine them to be and that hackers could hack into the system of the flight and take control flight?
Well, in what seems like a ‘nightmare come true’, a hacker has demonstrated how easy it is to take control of the flight system by exploiting the vulnerabilities in the in-flight entertainment (IFE) system of the flight.
Ruben Santamarta, a researcher from the IOActive, has pointed out major security flaws in the in-flight entertainment system of 13 major global airlines– Emirates, AirFrance, Singapore, Aerolineas Argentinas, United, Virgin, Finnair, Iberia, Qatar, KLM, American Airlines, Scandinavian and Etihad– that can prove to be catastrophic if not rectified at earliest.
Using the flaws in the system, Santamarta was not only able to change flight information like altitude, location and control cabin lighting but also control flight announcements made by the cabin crew. If that isn’t scary enough for you then here’s more.
With a simple flaw in the system, Santamarta was also able to gain access to the credit card information of VVIP and frequent fliers.
He explained that an attacker might spoof flight information values such as altitude or speed, and show a bogus route on the interactive map. “We do not believe these systems can resist solid attacks from skilled malicious actors,” he wrote in a blog while warning the airlines to be “vigilant”.
IOActive reported these findings to Panasonic Avionics, the company that powers the in-flight entertainment in these airlines, in March last year. However, the company did not provide any patches to reduce the vulnerabilities.
Meanwhile, if you’re planning to take a flight anytime soon, be careful, coz you never know if a hacker might sneak into the system of your flight and cause mischief!