On March 22nd in my Scam of the day I told you about the possibility that the missing Malaysian airliner may have had its computers hacked. During the flight, two essential communication and location systems were turned off while the aircraft continued to fly. Investigators appear to be focusing on the pilots or someone else on board physically turning off these systems. But the systems could have been turned off by a hacker remotely sabotaging the plane. In 2012, Boeing, the manufacturer of the Boeing 777 which was used on Flight 370 applied to the Federal Aviation Administration to make modifications to its onboard data systems because, according to federal records, “data network and design integration may result in security vulnerabilities from intentional or unintentional corruption of data systems critical to the safety and maintenance of the airplane… This may enable the exploitation of network security vulnerabilities and increased risks potentially resulting in unsafe conditions for the airplanes and occupants.”
Now the Federal Aviation Administration is ordering Boeing to make modifications to the computers on its 737 aircraft to prevent hackers from taking over control of the important inflight computers. The order of the FAA requires Boeing to “ensure that the airplanes’ electronic systems are protected from access by unauthorized sources external to the plane.”
Computers are more and more imbedded in almost everything we use including cars, aircraft, refrigerators, thermostats, ovens and many other devices that make up what is now referred to as the Internet of things. It is important to remember that once a computer is linked to the Internet, it is capable of being hacked and exploited unless proper security systems are in place. This problem is likely to get worse until it gets better so it is up to all of us to look into the security of the computerized devices that we use that make up the Internet of things.