Topic of the Week: Hacking the 787

Word is out that there might be a way to hack into the 787 and do terrible things. Anyone think this is a real threat? Should we be concerned?

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24 Comments on "Topic of the Week: Hacking the 787"

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David SF eastbay
Member

Anyone can say something to get they 15 minutes of fame in the media, proving it true is another matter. This will just get people checking things out and fixing any issues they find.

I would think the ‘bad guys’ would want to hack into the Pentagon computer or major bank computers and cause problems for the millions and not just 200 people on an airplane and anything they hit.

Bobber
Guest

Yeah. Those pesky Limey newspapers, and those good-for-nothing Cambridge University boffins – what the f*&@ would they know?!

More concerned as to whether these chips are in the drone aircraft that are currently used to spread freedom around the world. It also sounds very ‘Microsoft’ in nature (even though these are Intel chips) – you know, release a piece of crap software, wait for people to tell you where all the crap bits are.

SEAN
Guest

I would think the ?bad guys? would want to hack into the Pentagon computer or major bank computers and cause problems for the millions and not just 200 people on an airplane and anything they hit.

I see your point, but a 787 crash COULD have a devistating effect on not just Boeing, but all airlines as well as the broader econemy.

tharanga
Guest

There are bad guys who seem to have a fascination with aviation though, instead of causing carnage in other, easier areas.

BNA Flyer
Guest

I think this is the key passage

“Connecting to the chips would be comparatively easy over the internet if the chip is wired to an internet-enabled controller, he said. Normally a special cryptographic key would be needed, but the back door does not need an encrypted channel.”

Are these planes (drones and commercial aircraft) really connected to the Internet? I highly doubt it since most of these things talk with the ground via dedicated satellite connections. It’s not like they’re dialing up AOL every time.

Miles Barnett
Guest

In order to hack into this chip, you have to have access to it. Is the control system on a 787 connected to the internet? I doubt it.

tharanga
Guest

we’re short on details on how this works or doesn’t work, but generically speaking, something doesn’t have to be on the internet to be vulnerable. USB drives and the like can get viruses to anywhere. Ask Iran about that.

Jason H
Guest
As with most media reports they are using a “localizing” tactic to generate interest. People don’t really care as much about the military getting hacked because they figure the military can take care of itself (previous incidents to the contrary of course). By throwing the 787 into the mix they are trying to make the issue a bigger one to the larger community. It can often be used in less than ethical manners of course. What I find interesting is the selection of the airframe for this. Airbus uses similar chips in their A380, but I guess since British taxpayers… Read more »
Bobber
Guest

Yep. That’s what they’re doing for sure. Obviously more anti-trust vitriol. Scummy europeans.

Jason H
Guest

I realize you are just being a troll, but at the same time I happen to be equally European and “American” so you can stop trying to make my comment sound partisan.

Bobber
Guest

No trolling here, Jason – I found it ‘interesting’ that you chose to raise it as an issue. Have a nice weekend.

noahkimmel
Member

With enough planning and effort, anything is possible. However, doesn’t seem likely. Somehow, doubt 787 is too much more susceptible than any other modern airliner which uses radio frequencies for all kinds of things…

MeanMeosh
Guest

Methinks it’s much ado about nothing. After all, if military computers can be compromised by this back door – why hasn’t it been done yet? Surely a computer genius somewhere would have tried and succeeded by now.

hawes.daryl
Member

Sure sounds like a storyline for a “Movie of the Week” or somewhere on cable.

DClapp
Member

Sure, this is just what the flying public needs. They don’t understand what keeps the airplanes up in the air and the have no idea how the internet or hacking works. So, along comes some mainstream media reporter trying to sell their story and this speculation as to what might be possible an I might actually get a whole seat row.to myself on my next flight :-)

christophe.bottega
Member

Cranky turns into a tabloid !…
Run, fly away, everyone (well, maybe not in a 787 !…).

Cook
Guest

I don’t have the training or experience to evaluate this claim. However, if you (and the Guardian) conclude that it is true, discussing it in such public forums demonstrates extremely poor judgment. Even in cultures that enjoy an ‘open’ press, some subjects are probably best left unpublished.

Nick Barnard
Member

What you’re advocating is Security through obscurity, which security professionals consider a poor and unsound technique.

Instead we should publish lots of details and let folks pick over them to find the issues in any given system.

Rational Keith
Guest

Says who?
On what actual basis?
Have you researched the subject on web sites that have industry standards?
Such airplanes have many security and security features, including separation and firewalls, albeit they have to be done properly.
Talk is cheap – produce facts?

Jeremy Anderson
Guest

2008 called and wants its fear mongering back…
http://www.wired.com/politics/security/news/2008/01/dreamliner_security

This article is really just fear mongering. The vulnerability may exist, but it probably is not able to be executed on a flying aircraft. Now if James Bond were to walk up to the plane on the tarmac, or parachute on top of it while in flight, all bets are off….

Shane
Guest

Perhaps Southwest has figured out how to hack into 787’s through IAH’s com system which explains the real reason United pulled the plug on Houston – Auckland.

Russell
Guest

I, like another poster, feel this might just be a European scare tactic to discount the efficacy of the 787 while the A380 is causing a lot of embarrassment with wing crack issues.

Patrick
Guest

While the chip does have some functionality that could allow a certain amount of reprogramming, that functionality is disabled by default and protected by a custom passcode set by each customer. Further, physical access to the chip is necessary. –It’s not possible to do this via the internet.

Should Boeing consider this a potential risk and explore just how possible it is that the functionality could be abused? Sure. But should people panic and start claiming that terrorists can reprogram a Boeing aircraft over the internet? Definitely not.

BW
Guest

Speculating based on the (lack of) details provided in the article is exactly that. Speculation.

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