Fear of Flying?

Roberteaux

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Seems as though a computer security specialist of some sort claims to have hacked into an aircraft's flight control systems, and to have briefly taken control of an aircraft... causing it to "fly sideways"...

Feds Say That Banned Researcher Commandeered a Plane | WIRED

Not sure how one makes an aircraft fly sideways, but at least I understand that the researcher claims to have accessed some sort of terminal or cable junction beneath his seat on a flight, thence to have tapped into the computerized control systems of the aircraft.

I read an interview with the computer guy-- one Chris Roberts-- that appeared elsewhere, and found the guy saying that this sort of a hack-job isn't really easy to pull off, though he also said that he's done it more than once. Apparently, he gained access to the flight controls by first hacking into the aircraft's entertainment system. Or so he says.

What got my attention, though, was that he claims that one does not necessarily need to be aboard an aircraft to do this sort of thing.

The FBI seized his computers, and is currently investigating.

--R
 

Benjammin

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I don't know what's worse, that he makes it sound so easy, or that he's basically telling people how to do it :shock:

Man, if I knew that much about computers I would hack into an ATM and give myself $100,000,000
 

Steven

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I hope this doesn't become a new fad. Hackers on remote computers flying planes sideways, or worse.
 

filtersweep

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When I first started seeing on-demand entertainment in every seat, this was the first thing I thought about. But my thoughts were that since most of these were retrofits, and most places have over the top redundancy when it comes to safety, that the 'networks' needed to be physically separated. I am highly skeptical of these claims overall. This seems like a crazy, attention-seeking ploy by this idiot.
 

Pennyman

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Chris Roberts, a security researcher with One World Labs, told the FBI agent during an interview in February that he had hacked the in-flight entertainment system, or IFE, on an airplane and overwrote code on the plane’s Thrust Management Computer while aboard the flight. He was able to issue a climb command and make the plane briefly change course, the document states.

“He stated that he thereby caused one of the airplane engines to climb resulting in a lateral or sideways movement of the plane during one of these flights,” FBI Special Agent Mark Hurley wrote in his warrant application.


I'm no pilot, but I just don't see how manipulating the thrust on an engine could cause an airplane to climb. Make it turn, sure, but climb?


Something's not adding up.
 

rockstar232007

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Not so much the "flying" part. It's the "crashing" part that scares me.

All joking aside, I refuse to willing put my life in someone else's hands, especially in light of recent events. Both in the air, AND on the ground.

I'm no pilot, but I just don't see how manipulating the thrust on an engine could cause an airplane to climb. Make it turn, sure, but climb?


Something's not adding up.
I think by "climb" they're talking about the amount of thrust? If each engine is on a separate circuit, that means they can be manipulated/controlled independently. Thus an increase in power (thrust) to one or the other would make the plane turn.

I hope this doesn't become a new fad. Hackers on remote computers flying planes sideways, or worse.
Why not? They're already doing it with cars. Just like everything else, once they get board, they move on to bigger things.

Next up: Naval battleships.
 

radarlove

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I'm no pilot, but I just don't see how manipulating the thrust on an engine could cause an airplane to climb. Make it turn, sure, but climb?


Something's not adding up.

Asymmetric thrust will cause lateral movement.
 

Hanover Fist

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Increasing the thrust will make the plane climb; likewise, decreasing the thrust will make the plane descend. That's pilot training 101.

Also, a plane cannot fly sideways--that's physically impossible. It may slip or skid into a turn, but fly sideways? Not gonna happen!
 

lǎo​wài

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I am guessing that sideways means flying with the wings vertical, rather than horizontal.

As one who uses United, the inflight entertainment system uses some variant of linux, I can't imagine that system being a part of the systems used to control the airplane.

I've been wrong before.

edit: And I am again. He appears to be a good guy, exposing vulnerabilities in accessible computer systems on planes. Still, nothing will change until someone gains control of a plane and uses it for evil purposes. Then the government will mandate evil regulations that may well save my life.
 

Otto tune

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Something's not adding up.
I agree.
First, planes don't fly sideways. If they could, you wouldn't need wings. It sounds like the author is the same guy who writes all the anti gun stories claiming he can walk into any gun store and walk out with a machine gun.

Next you have to believe that the movie was run by the same computer as the flight controls. And my seat never had a computer connection in it.
Having flown many, many miles, I'd be happy if the darn movie would just play without locking up.

This story is ginned up to make people call for MORE government regulation.

Maybe someone on MH-370 hacked into the airplane computer and accidentally hit "delete"?
 

Davio

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Maybe it will work on drones and someday we can have lots of fun watching the sky carnival.
 

chasenblues

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Meatwad

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Nard

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I'm no expert but wouldn't he have to disengage the auto pilot first? If he did surely the cabin crew would have had an alarm to alert them to this and they could have prevented any interference with the controls.
If the story is true why would some pea brained idiot put his own safety and that of the other passengers in possible jeopardy. Straight jacket and padded cell required for this guy.
 

Rich

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The $64 dollar question is this: Why, oh why, are the entertainment and navigation systems tied together in the first place? No one involved with designing this system thought that this might be a bad idea? With that sort of setup, if a regular passenger can use the channel buttons to change the TV station, then obviously someone else could wire into the circuit and figure out how to issue other commands to the system.

I give this design two derps down in a circle.
 

SJJMcGhee

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Planes can't go "sideways", they can crab and the wings could be normal to the horizontal, but if that happens on anything more than a small stunt plane you'd find the aircraft losing altitude pretty quickly, should it be sustained.

I would be incredibly surprised if the infotainment and flight controls were patched into the same system. They'll run off the same power supply but I don't think anything more. The aircraft industry loves to (has to) cater for worst case, I mean, there is 4 hydraulic systems on a plane so that if the main fails, there's 3 back ups. And on a 737, there's physical manual controls if it all goes south. On Airbus craft, there'll be a backup computer that's isolated and has it's own power in case of problems and if the flight systems detect problems, they revert to worst case scenario anyway.

I have a strong feeling that this is somewhat overblown, but we shall see I guess.
 

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