Chris Roberts, an airport security researcher, was accosted by the FBI after he tweeted jokingly about being able to hack his flight. He might have been joking about it but these are things that the FBI doesn’t take too lightly. His tweet got him detained after his flight landed and he ended up in an interrogation room with several agents.
Find myself on a 737/800, lets see Box-IFE-ICE-SATCOM, ? Shall we start playing with EICAS messages? "PASS OXYGEN ON" Anyone ? :)
— Chris Roberts (@Sidragon1) April 15, 2015
The tweet from Chris Roberts, embedded above, might not make much sense to the average Joe but law enforcement agencies knew exactly what he was referring to.
“Shall we start playing with EICAS messages?” he writes, EICAS is the Engine Indicating and Crew Alerting System that’s a critical component. Agents from the FBI took Roberts in from questioning where he spent about four hours after arriving in Syracuse, New York. His iPad, hard drives, laptop and other gear was also confiscated by the authorities for more investigation.
Roberts actually has a history of issuing security warnings related to vulnerabilities of commercial airplanes, he’s also the founder and chief technology officer of One World Labs, a security research firm. He was actually flying to Syracuse to deliver a talk about the same vulnerabilities to an audience that also included officials from various law enforcement agencies.
Speaking to CNN Money, Roberts explained that it’s possible for anyone to plug their laptop into the box that you may find under your seat in an airplane and access some important controls, from cabin lighting to even the engine. He says he has tested this theory of more than a dozen flights and was able to view information about flight management systems and thrust control.
He may only have been joking around about hacking his flight but the fact remains that there are people out there who might tap into these vulnerabilities for nefarious purposes. Perhaps the law enforcement agencies and the airline industry and seriously took into this matter and take appropriate precautions.
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