An unknown hacker taking control of a plane using an Android phone’s screen sounds like a frightening, but fictional, scenario from the next international spy movie. But, it’s one of many theories being bandied about to explain what happened to missing Malaysian Airways Flight MH370.
This theory, advanced by a British anti-terror expert on Sunday, says that hackers can get into the main computer network of the plane through the inflight, onboard entertainment system. Ondrej Vlcek, Chief Operating Officer at AVAST, believes this theory is highly unlikely.
“The theory is extremely wild and unlikely,” said Vlcek. “The entertainment systems on most airline carriers are relatively old and independent from the main computer systems of the aircraft such as position, temperature, etc. There is no feedback communication from the entertainment system to the main computer. It is basically only one-way information for passengers.”
Long before the mystery of Flight MH370, we shared a different rogue-hacker-with-Android-scenario. It was based on a presentation given at The Hack In The Box security conference in April 2013 called ‘Aircraft Hacking: Practical Aero Series’ by Hugo Teso. Using PC simulation software, Teso was able to manipulate the steering of a Boeing jet in ‘autopilot’ mode, and said he could make oxygen masks drop down, and even cause the plane to crash by setting it on a collision course with another plane, stated a Forbes’ article about the presentation.
After reviewing the results of his tests, aviation safety groups disputed the findings saying, “The described technique cannot engage or control the aircraft’s autopilot system using the FMS or prevent a pilot from overriding the autopilot. Therefore, a hacker cannot obtain “full control of an aircraft” as the technology consultant has claimed.”
For an up-to-date list of all the theories – from the realistic to the really wild – about what has happened to the plane, please see The Telegraph, Malaysian Airlines MH370: live.
Photo source: Express
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