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US air traffic control computer system vulnerable to terrorist hackers

The US system for guiding airplanes is open to vulnerabilities from outside hackers, the Government Accountability Office said Monday. The weaknesses that threaten the Federal Aviation Administration's ability to ensure the safety of flights include the failure to patch known three-year-old security holes, the transmission and storage of unencrypted passwords, and the continued use of "end-of-life" key servers. ( More...

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Todd Egizii 5
Didn't Bruce Willis run across this 20yrs ago?
matt jensen 4
how do you hack a tube set?
paul trubits 3
Everything is vulnerable to outside hackers.
Daniel Sallee 6
Great, let's publicize this so someone can try it. How did this get released and put in a news article?
preacher1 3
My thoughts exactly. They are probably counting on people to leave it alone, just like Kerry thinks he is going to keep Iran from developing and using nukes. There are people out there that will hack the ting now just to say they can and have no care if they run a couple of pax flights together and kill a few folks.
paul trubits 5
That is the same argument they use to stop sex education in schools. Every seventeen year old Russian or Chinese hacker can get into any computer system they want. The next war will be a cyber war attack on our infrastructure. I sure hope that our government is not counting on people leaving it alone. They better be scared S##tliss.
preacher1 3
Though not generally thought of in that regard, this is an integral part of that infrastructure, as much as anything else, at least to the ones in the air if it were hacked. I would hope that infrastructure is higher on the radar of the powers that be than they appear. Hopefully they let us fret about it, while securely protecting it. I guess we can dream.
paul trubits 2
A few months back, I was on a Frontier A-319 trying to leave KIAD. They could not reboot the computer. It took them a hour to find someone who could do it. Guess flight training is going to have to include what to do when the computers go down.
BaronG58 1
CTR + ALT + DEL maybe? 8:)
James Carlson 2
The people who would want to do this and have the means to do it already know how. Keeping vulnerabilities secret doesn't do much these days to solve the problem; in the trade, it's known as "security by obscurity" and it simply does not work.

Discussing the issues openly really is the best solution. It means that those with the skills to help can do so, and it means that the rest of us can understand the nature of the problem and (eventually) decide whether to support what's being done to solve it.

Yeah, it's not pretty.
ToddBaldwin3 1
That is a characteristic of our government and our society, good or bad.
Now retired for 10 years, most "Automation Specialists" have known about vulnerabilities. The strength of the system is also it's area of concern. The ATC system integrates thousands of functions and computers to provide the aviators with information they need.

ATC controllers are well trained and prepared for outages and have procedures ready for failures. A hacker could certainly disrupt normal operations fairly easily, but actually creating a total system failure that would put our country in danger would be difficult.

Remember, September 2001, we had a few hijackings that indicated a possible attack, and with very limited information, we were successful in getting all civilian aircraft on the ground and safe. The only real concern is that over the last 10 years, the FAA has chosen to rely more and more on automated systems and less concentration on maintaining sufficient resources and staffing for ATC facilities.
bbabis 2
This is news? What isn't vulnerable? The government floats these stories because the government's fix to all problems, real or made up, is "We need more money to fix the problem." Well, we could spend another 2 Trillion (with a T) and not be any more secure from attack than we are now, but a lot of people who got their pockets lined would be very happy. We already pay for a very capable military. The answer is; for our leaders, if we have any, to make it very clear that an attack on our people is an attack on our country and we won't stand for it and will deal with it with severe actions and not severe words and finger waving. The weaker we respond to these events the more they will happen with increasing severity. The cat has been away too long and the mice are running the show.
Bobbie Munger 2
Well stated, bbabis
Bobbie Munger 1
Good grief...are you kidding me? Unencrypted passwords? End of life key servers? How ancient is this system...I read somewhere it was being replaced. Hackers are a way of life these days...has it taken the government this long to figure that out? Please...let's not put ANYTHNG in the hands of government...they screw up every time. O.K. That's out of my system now. Have a good day all.
ken young 1
Terrific...Another thing our federal government does well.And we have people in this country screaming that the govt needs more tax revenue....


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