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Report: Hackers broke into FAA air traffic control systems

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posted on May, 8 2009 @ 10:23 PM
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Hackers have broken into the air traffic control mission-support systems of the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration several times in recent years, according to an Inspector General report sent to the FAA this week.

source

This is just plain scary. Random geeks with too much time on their hands in control of the air traffic control system is not a good thing. Fortunately, so far, all they've done is stolen personal information, but according to the article:


attacks could spread over network connections from those areas to the operational networks where real-time surveillance, communications and flight information is processed, the report warned.


I rarely fly, but i have friends and family who do. If snot-nosed computer nerds can hack the system, a well trained terrorist could do likewise, and that is not a situation any of us want to see. Why is this being allowed to happen? Why have they not secured their networks properly? This isn't the first time they've been hacked, but their security is still not up to par.


TA




posted on May, 8 2009 @ 11:07 PM
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reply to post by TheAssociate
 


Associate, what do you fear a 'hacker' can accomplish?

Worst thing they could do is slow the system down (which severe weather does already).

"Air Traffic Control" is a sort of misnomer.

The 'job' of ATC is, simply, to facilitate and (hopefully) expedite air traffic. RADAR, of course, is intrumental in today's busy airspace, to give real-time (well, ALMOST real-time....there is always a few seconds delay) ability to see the traffic under their jurisdiction.

But, remember, ATC existed BEFORE the technology of RADAR. Because, it really is, at its core, about communication. Radio and landline telephones. Pilots communicate via radio, obviously...controllers communicate via telephone as they co-ordinate 'hand-offs' between their various sectors of responsibility.

SO, if a computer "hacker" can disrupt the computer feeds, and screw up the RADAR info available to the Centers and TRACONs, then everything will revert to the 'old-fashioned' way of doing things. Tried and true, decades-old procedures. THEY are still used, even today, in regions without RADAR coverage....remote places in Alaska. Parts of Amazonial Brazil, MANY portions of the African continent, Asian continent, etc.

AND, I believe there are plenty of firewalls in place, at least in the USA system. Consider the EU, though...all those different countries, ALL connected? No, only superficially.

Last bit of rant: The common Aviation Language is ENGLISH! THIS is the
so-called 'standard' that is supposed to be employed WorldWide. Well, my experiences -- in France THEY speak 'english' when addressing english-speaking pilots, but they use their idiomatic language when it's a french airplane (or French Canadian, sometimes....depends on how the pilot initiates the conversation). In Germany, by comparison, they follow the 'rules'.

Not to single out France, any pilot who flies internationally will find the same thing in Mexico, Central and South America, Asia, Eastern Europe...you name it. This is important because a pilot's mind is listening, and always keeping a 3-D image of local air traffic, based on what they hear others are doing. IF you don't know the language, you lose that advantage. Nowadays, better cockpit techology is available, such as TCAS, so it's not as big a deal as it once was. Still, a good pilot knows that he must rely on HIMSELF/HERSELF first. ATC is just another tool.

(No offence to ATC professionals....we are a team).



posted on May, 8 2009 @ 11:12 PM
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reply to post by TheAssociate
 


oh god, "a well trained terrorist", the only terrorists are those on TV, they call themselves CIA directors, presidents, head of department of defense, condi rice, cheney etc etc etc etc etc. PROVEN.

Quit perpetuating a monstrous myth.



posted on May, 8 2009 @ 11:14 PM
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my opinion:

if the USDA can regulate food items to ensure the safety of the american populace, and the FDA can regulate drugs, then why do we not have some mechanism in place to force software companies to improve security of their products?

I cannot speak for the industry as a whole, but i CAN tell you that Microsoft purposefully leaks stuff like their Office software.

A few years ago there was a "hacked" version of Office XP that just about everyone and their dog had a copy of. Microsoft did VERY little to quell the spread of the software (no patches were sent out to disable software registered using the dummy key that everyone used). Why is this? Because of regular Joe's adopt Office XP as their software of choice, it further cements the control that MS has over the industry. They are more than willing to make millions off of the corporate licensing of the software.



posted on May, 8 2009 @ 11:22 PM
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reply to post by weedwhacker
 


It's not so much fear of 'hackers' breaking into the FAA that i fear. It's the overall insecurity of government networks. If someone can get into the FAA's network, who's to say they can't hack the missile defense network and start launching nukes?


TA



posted on May, 8 2009 @ 11:28 PM
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reply to post by king9072
 


king....a wee bit OT, there!

Associate, notwithstanding your obvious concerns for friends and family who fly often, please rest assured that the WORST that would happen would be terrible delays. Ground Stops, diversions to alternate airports, etc.

Quite frankly, with the current abilities of modern airplanes, once in flight if some sort of disruption to the ATC network on the ground occurred, we have plenty of resources available onboard to stay safe.

I mentioned TCAS (Traffic Collision and Avoidance System)....mandatory for every commercial jet in the US Airspace. Pilots can always talk on the radio, air-to-air. We aren't stupid, we'd figure it out. Depending on circumstances, the most critical factor for any airplane would be the amount of fuel on board. Anyone needing priority to land would be allowed first....and so on. We have almost instantaneous ability to get WX info via ACARS uplinks....or, just by using VHF Radio Comm as well. So, each Captain could plan a suitable diversion destination.

Hollywood films may have left a particular 'vision' in some people's minds as to how the ATC System really works. Professional pilots and Professional Air Traffic Controllers usually groan and shake our heads at all of the inaccuracies. Just look at Captain "Sully" in the Hudson River! (He/they were damned lucky they had clear weather...but, of course, geese don't fly IFR, do they???)



posted on May, 8 2009 @ 11:31 PM
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reply to post by TheAssociate
 


Well, TA.

I'd feel completely safe as to that theory.

Nuclear missiles are not launched automatically. THAT is why there are Humans there...TWO who must agree firstly, and act simultaneously.

Again, Hollywood has infected people's perceptions of reality....

But.....*sigh*....paranoia never ends.....



posted on May, 8 2009 @ 11:35 PM
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Originally posted by weedwhacker
reply to post by TheAssociate
 


Well, TA.

I'd feel completely safe as to that theory.

Nuclear missiles are not launched automatically. THAT is why there are Humans there...TWO who must agree firstly, and act simultaneously.

Again, Hollywood has infected people's perceptions of reality....

But.....*sigh*....paranoia never ends.....


You should explain this to the folks who loaded armed nukes onto bombers in the Barksdale incident. This incident, i believe, is fabled to resulted from Chinese hackers.



posted on May, 9 2009 @ 12:15 AM
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reply to post by bigfatfurrytexan
 


Not familiar with that....but, since we are still here, is it dsafe to assume that controls were in place to prevent an 'accidental' launch????

MeThinks the folk in the Silos are 'tested' periodically. A 'no-notice' drill, or some such???

They will NOT launch unless verifiable codes are received, and confirmed, correct?? I know, the implication that BECAUSE of their jobs, the 'outside world' may have been destroyed, and they MUST follow procedures...still, UNLESS the Chinese hackers have the codes....then WHY would a silo pair actually get so close to a 'launch'???

UNLESS they were being tested....and the whole 'Chinese' thing is just another layer of secrecy and cover???

This can get very, very deep.......



posted on May, 9 2009 @ 02:37 AM
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Why weren't their comps on cc to begin with? Same goes for the Hadron Collider. These are sensitive machines. They don't need internet access to perform their duties.



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