Why the future of air travel is in danger

Yesterday Joe Greenwood, Royal Navy Sponsored Undergraduate, performed a talk at BSides London named ‘Crash all the Flying Things!’ As you can tell this talk generated a lot of hype and for the technical minded at BSides didn’t let down these expectations. The talk revolved around the main mechanics used by modern day aircraft and how these mechanics were internally flawed.

The talk started by Mr Greenwood talking about the so called future of aircraft and how the technology of ADS-B was deemed by many to be the future of air travel, while he indeed saw it as a step backwards. This was followed up by facts of countries and when they were implementing ADS-B:

  • Australia – Now
  • Europe – 2017
  • USA – 2020

Mr Greenwood continued his talk referring to the flight system T-CAS. He then noted that the autopilot system used in modern aircraft was indeed slaved to this T-CAS system. He continued with:

“[T-CAS] blindly assumes everyone transmitting is an aircraft and they are where they say they are.”

Mr Greenwood went onto talk about that not only was this system a surveillance risk waiting to happen, due to the fact that each device openly broadcasts their location, but that also to spoof an aircraft he only needed to create three signatures:

  • The fake location
  • The Velocity of the aircraft
  • ID Packet

Mr Greenwood continued his talk referring to many areas that could both be exploited using the system as well as several precautions that could be implemented to mitigate such attacks. Mr Greenwood concluded his talk with a simple line of wisdom that he deemed needed to occur for the future of air travel to be secure:

“You need the management and FAA to sit down with some techies and hash out a solution.”

Image source: Pixabay.com

James Stevenson

Im a Cyber Security enthusiast that loves all things to do with technology. I'm specifically interested in cyber security and ethical hacking.

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