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FBI: A US computer expert hacked into a plane to fly it sideways


A US man has admitted to hacking flight systems mid-air and slightly altering its course. US Federal Bureau of Investigation confirmed that the well-known security researcher had made several changes to the flight’s systems.chrisroberts1

Security researcher Chris Roberts admitted to the FBI that he had hacked entertainment systems in more than a dozen flights, and in one instance in February, he hacked into the management computer and briefly altered its course.

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FBI agent Mark Hurley stated that he caused the aircraft to climb which resulted in lateral or sideways movement of the flight. The FBI wrote these in a warrant application in April, which was obtained by Wired.

Last month, the FBI seized Robert’s laptop and was escorted off from the United Airlines plane, after he posted a tweet claiming that he could hack the flight system to drop oxygen masks. Between 2011 and 2014, Roberts claimed that he compromised about 15-24 flights. He would examine the electronics box under the passenger seats, and connects his laptop to the ethernet cable. He would also lookout for security flaws and pried on communications from the cockpit.

Hurley mentioned that he found the electronic box tampered, below his seat. On the very same day, IS Government Accountability Office announced that hackers could bring down planes using on-board Wi-Fi systems. Security experts believe that Roberts crossed a line while researching security flaws. A security analyst from TripWire Ken Westin stated that connecting to in-flight systems is not the way to conduct security research.

However,  Roberts stated that the comments on the warrant application were taken out of context. The details of the warrant emerged after United Airlines announced a bug bounty program that rewards 1 million fliers-mails to individuals in finding bugs. However, the program clearly mentions that testing on aircraft on aircraft or aircraft flight systems via Wi-Fi is prohibited.

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