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How a single Android smartphone can crash an airplane

Published Apr 11th, 2013 2:55PM EDT
Android Airplane Hack
Image: Shutterstock

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A hacker claims that a single Android handset can be used to hijack an entire plane, Net-Security reported. Security consultant and trained commercial pilot Hugo Teso explained during a speech at the Hack In The Box Conference in Amsterdam this week that it is possible to develop an Android application that can attack a plane’s Flight Management Systems. He said that he could take complete control of an airplane and have it “dance to his tune.”

The application, which is known as PlaneSploit and is only a proof-of-concept, can access specific information about individual aircrafts — identification data, position, altitude and more — by intercepting radio broadcasts to air traffic controllers. A second exploit can then be used to send malicious commands to the plane, allowing the attacker to alter the flight’s destination, sound alarms and flash interior lights or even crash the aircraft.

Teso notes that attacks of this kind only work when auto-pilot is enabled and switching the program off will allow a pilot to fly the plane normally. He also isn’t sharing specific details with the public and has been working with the industry to address related vulnerabilities.

Dan joins the BGR team as the Android Editor, covering all things relating to Google’s premiere operating system. His work has appeared on Fox News, Fox Business and Yahoo News, among other publications. When he isn’t testing the latest devices or apps, he can be found enjoying the sights and sounds of New York City.