Feds: Terrorist could hack your plane

Wifi security risk on-board planes in the sky

The federal government is warning about a possible vulnerability in commercial aircraft with in-flight WiFi.

The General Accounting Office issued a report this week detailing the vulnerability in newer planes, such as Boeing's 787 Dreamliner. The report explains a plane's avionics systems could be vulnerable to hacking through the public WiFi that passengers can access.

Security Analyst Chris Roberts tweeted about the vulnerability while on board a flight, only to be met by federal investigators when the plane landed.

"We spent four hours having a fairly lengthy and in-depth discussion about the pretty blunt tweet that I put out there," Roberts told Russian television network RT.

Cyber security experts believe that vulnerability is real, but not at all easy to exploit.

Theoretically, a passenger could access anything from the passenger oxygen masks to more critical components like the engines.

But experts also said terrorists trying to take control of a plane through the WiFi is more trouble than it's worth. The real vulnerability, they say, would come from those planes being interconnected, and connected to the ground.

"The threat would be if you get into the air traffic control system," said Adam Doupe from ASU's Ira A. Fulton School of Engineering. "Now you can bounce to all these planes."


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