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Experts Doubt Hacker Flew Plane, but Could Spur Added Security

By    |   Monday, 18 May 2015 06:51 PM

An aviation safety expert and a cyberexpert told Newsmax TV on Monday they don't believe that hacker Chris Roberts succeeded in getting into the controls of commercial airliners as he claims, but added that his assertions might lead to more security for fliers.

"I don't see any objective evidence from a third party, in this case, very likely, the FBI, to show that definitively took place," AirSafe.com President Todd Curtis told "Newsmax Prime" host J.D. Hayworth. "It's quite likely that while he was attempting to affect the aircraft, the aircraft did have a change in flight path. Whether it was due to his actions directly or indirectly remains to be seen."

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Bentley University professor Steven J. Weisman agreed, telling Hayworth that he is concerned about the cybersecurity of airliners, but is doubtful of Roberts' claims, despite the fact he has been giving speeches on the subject for the past five years.

Regardless of whether Roberts was able to hack into the aircraft, his claims do feed into the public's legitimate concern that, despite controls, it may be possible to engage the flight management system through the in-flight entertainment system.

Roberts says he only made his claims public because he has tried talking to the airlines about the problem, but wasn't taken seriously. Weisman said Roberts probably took his latest action as a warning.

Weisman said that he has seen incidents of firewalls between airline control systems and the online entertainment systems not as well separated as they should be. Roberts also claimed he used default IDs and passwords to get into the planes' control systems.

"Companies do not change the default, the default IDs or passwords, making them susceptible," Weisman said. "This is a wake-up call and I hope the FAA, I hope the aviation industry, I hope the GAO are all on this."

Curtis said the hacking community should use Roberts' claims as a chance to investigate the security of airlines and recommend fixes.

Weisman isn't concerned that Roberts has given any ideas to terrorists. They've already been trying what Roberts talks about, he assured Hayworth.

"We are part of this Internet of Things where everything is connected through the Internet," Weisman said. "That brings us great opportunities, but it also brings great dangers, and this is something that really is a very real risk and one we need to be wary of."

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An aviation safety expert and a cyberexpert told Newsmax TV on Monday they don't believe that hacker Chris Roberts succeeded in getting into the controls of commercial airliners as he claims, but added that his assertions might lead to more security for fliers.
Steven Weisman, Todd Curtis, airplanes, cybersecurity, hack, Newsmax Prime, Hayworth
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2015-51-18
Monday, 18 May 2015 06:51 PM
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