Security Researcher Claims To Have Hacked Commercial Airliner Using Entertainment System As Entry Point

Is it possible to take control of an airplane using an infotainment system as a gateway? Chris Roberts, a well-known hacker and security researcher with One World Labs, claims that it is. The FBI, who is investigating Roberts' claims, is taking no chances that he's incorrect.

On April 15, Roberts posted this tweet:

It's as if Roberts was looking for trouble. And if that's the case, he certainly got it. Upon landing, he was greeted by two FBI agents and two police officers, and was then interrogated for a couple of hours. Before he left, law enforcement confiscated two laptops, and multiple hard drives and flash drives.

In its report, the FBI says that Roberts claimed to have been able to take control of a plane, with one specific example given being that he issued a "climb" command (which supposedly worked). Beyond that, he claims to have been able to see exactly what the pilots were able to see, including sensitive details like traffic information.

Boeing 737 800
Roberts claims that Boeing's 737-800 is vulnerable; Flickr: Aero Icarus

It will be interesting to see where this goes, because if Roberts was in fact able to gain access to imperative plane functions, that would not bode well for companies who built their planes with such vulnerabilities. I personally find it excruciatingly unlikely that Roberts was able to pull off all of what he said he could, so this is one investigation I am anxious to see the results of.