U.S. government officials have revealed that a group of government hackers hacked into a Boeing 757 aircraft and successfully controlled its flight functions without the knowledge of the pilots.
Robert Hickey, a Homeland Security cyber investigator, and his team of security researchers managed to remotely hack and take over a Boeing 757 aircraft on the runway at Atlantic City airport, New Jersey.
Though the passenger jet was hacked over a year ago, the details were recently revealed at the 2017 CyberSat Summit in Tysons Corner, Virginia. While the methods used in hacking the aircraft are classified, Hickey and his team used radio frequency communications to break into the aircraft. Hickey told the Avionics Today:
“We got the aeroplane on September 19, 2016. Two days later, I was successful in accomplishing a remote, non-cooperative, penetration. [Which] means I didn’t have anybody touching the aeroplane, I didn’t have an insider threat. I stood off using typical stuff that could get through security and we were able to establish a presence on the systems of the aircraft.”
During the 2016 hacking of the aircraft, a Boeing official was present. Now the aircraft company has released a statement saying “the test did not identify any cyber vulnerabilities in the 757, or any other Boeing aircraft”.
A Boeing spokesman insists the test is unlikely to indicate a major threat to airliners because the hacking involved using specific attack methods on older aircraft with older systems.