Cyber-Security Attacks Already Happening in Business Aviation
The attacks are happening while the aircraft is airborne
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by Kathryn B. Creedy - April 12, 2018, 10:00 PM
While the commercial aviation industry is struggling to even acknowledge threats to cybersecurity, the business aviation industry has already experienced attacks, according to Josh Wheeler, Satcom Direct director, entry into service.
"The attacks are happening while the aircraft is airborne," Wheeler explained. "The attacks, just like the ones that corporations like Walmart have experienced, are most likely coming from the ground.
The key point to remember is that if you can see the Internet when a passenger connects, then the Internet can see you. It's not really about the satellite. The satellite is just the means to deliver Internet capabilities to the aircraft. In addition, there are security issues with the flight department, for example, any time an aircraft has an open Wi-Fi network operating in the cabin, there is a risk of hacking."
Cybersecurity threats challenge one of business aviation's greatest attributes: security of trade secrets from prying eyes.
There is also the risk of hacking aboard commercial aircraft. In an attempt to get ahead of the issue, Satcom Direct (Booth H1214) is offering monitoring systems and classes in cybersecurity literacy.
"We saw a huge gap in security because there are certain assumptions made in aviation that, if you are flying, no one can touch you," Wheeler told AIN. "We need to change the conversation. An IP is an IP and it is irrelevant where it is. Just because you are at altitude doesn't mean you are safe. People have this huge disconnect. They don't understand the components of the aircraft, and that creates the perfect storm. Corporate IT people don't want to get involved because they think they are secure. Flight crews don't know anything, so they think there is not a problem."
Wheeler sees threat attempts daily but he said, so far, no one has quantified the threat so there are no statistics on how many attacks there have been or what they were. "Once we started evaluating the traffic we were seeing daily attacks."
It is not just business aviation passengers who are vulnerable, he added. If someone brings aboard an infected computer on a commercial flight and connects to an airline's Wi-Fi system, an entire cabin can be compromised.
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"So far there has not been a breach in aircraft systems or avionics," he said. "We see phishing scams all the time where someone calls the flight department [and], in the interest of good customer service, employees reveal a lot of information that can be used to compromise the system....
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