It may have seemed like just a one-off disruption after a hacker attack at LOT Polish Airlines caused the cancellation and delay of some flights this week. Or last month when United flights were temporarily grounded.
But Wired Magazine looked into the incidents and discovered that all other airlines may be equally vulnerable.
The magazine said the problem area is the procedure used by all carriers to deliver their flight plans.
“Though this (LOT incident) may be the first confirmed hack of its kind, it’s very similar to a mysterious grounding of United Airlines planes that happened last month,” Wired said.
It took the Polish carrier about five hours to get things back to normal, after hundreds of passengers had been inconvenienced. The United incident lasted about an hour, but it resulted in the grounding of all the airline’s flights. The cause of that problem was never fully explained.
The Wired article cited one tech expert stuck on a United flight during that incident who said the pilot announced the flight was held due to a possible computer hack of the airline’s network, “which resulted in bogus flight plans popping up in the system.”
If hackers are breaking into airline computers to disrupt flight dispatching transmissions, it’s not clear what they stand to gain. But it does give passengers just one more thing to be concerned about.
Ironically, the United grounding came just a couple of weeks after the company offered bounties in the form of up to a million frequent flyer miles to computer geeks who could uncover vulnerabilities in United’s data networks and systems.
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