Now this feels kinda scary, weird and big-brotherish.
Last week prominent security researcher Chris Roberts was banned from flying United after speaking on TV and tweeting about airline security vulnerabilities and his alleged ability to hack into and tamper with inflight systems during flights.
Back on March 22 on Fox News, Roberts boasted about how he’s been able to connect to a box underneath his seat on planes to view data from aircraft engines, fuel and flight management systems.
Then this week on Twitter (connected via United’s wi-fi system), Roberts joked around about his ability to hack into airlines’ flight management systems:
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
According to USA Today, that tweet resulted in the confiscation by the FBI of all his computer equipment, including an iPad, a MacBook Pro, several hard drives and several USB memory sticks last week.
Roberts heads up a company called One World Labs, “which tries to discover security risks before they are exploited,” according to the Associated Press.
On Saturday, Roberts tried boarding a flight from Colorado Springs to San Francisco, but was stopped by United’s corporate security.
“Given Mr. Roberts’ claims regarding manipulating aircraft systems, we’ve decided it’s in the best interest of our customers and crew members that he not be allowed to fly United,” airline spokesman Rahsaan Johnson told The Associated Press.
Roberts ended up flying Southwest to San Francisco, where he’ll no doubt be a celebrity among practitioners of the dark internet arts at the big RSA Conference, which draws nearly 30,000 attendees and claims to be the largest such gathering in the world.
Here’s a screenshot of the presentation Noble will be giving on Thursday at Moscone Center.
Roberts case has now been taken on by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which says on its website: “United’s refusal to allow Roberts to fly is both disappointing and confusing. As a member of the security research community, his job is to identify vulnerabilities in networks so that they can be fixed. Indeed, he was headed to RSA speak about security vulnerabilities…”
Poor guy. I’m still wondering how he’s going to be able to give his presentation if all his equipment is with the FBI. But who cares, he now has an even more interesting story to tell. We’ll be listening!
What do you think about all this? Please leave your comments below.
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