I REALLY believe in this. This is serious shit. W
UPDATE 5: Note from Winn with Link to Pilot Brief on Avionics Insecurity
I am saying something very simple: I don't know, and I don't know anyone else who really does know, for absolutely sure, how secure the various networks and systems on airplanes are. I do know that when an IT person says they are secure because they use a firewall, I am skeptical. I am not a fan of security by obscurity, often favoring open source reporting by an independent security review on a periodic basis. I also know that physically isolated networks are sure a whole lot more secure than two network segments that are electronically isolated. Lastly, I know, for absolutely sure, I would be a boatload more comfortable really knowing that airplanes, of all things, maintain the highest level of security possible.
Short URL for this post: http://tinyurl.com/air-cyber-safe
UPDATE 4: Homeland Security Today builds story around this post:
Cyber Experts Warn Airlines Should be in a Cyber Panic Over Potential Vulnerabilities
UPDATE 3: New complete public letter from Winn Schwartau.
FLY – S.A.F.E.
Security for AirFrame Entertainment
STOP Inflight Entertainment in the interest of Public Safety
I and many of my security professional colleagues are not so sure that it’s safe to fly anymore. I know I cannot, without any level of confidence, say whether inflight onboard networks are secure, or whether they present a clear and present danger to the flying public.
I am saying, let’s take a pause.
In light of the myriad cyber-security questions about the differing current implementations of onboard entertainment on commercial aircraft, I ask that, in the name of Passenger Safety First, airlines voluntarily shut off their aircraft WiFi and entertainment systems until proper open-source security reviews can establish their safety for the flying public. The evolution of Passenger Comfort and Profit via onboard electronic systems raises questions about the potential for miscreant and cyber-terrorist actions.
Defensive protestations about ‘no known vulnerabilities’ invokes a level of arrogance that cyberhistory has proven to be profoundly wrong and a guaranteed recipe for Failure. Political and profit-driven hubris must not be permitted to dominate while thousands of planes hurtle millions of passengers around the world at 530mph.
I do not question the need for inflight distraction or the profit incentive of for-pay entertainment. I, for myself, read a book. I merely believe that it is incumbent upon the cyber-security industry in association with appropriate air-industry legislative and regulatory bodies to create and enforce tougher criteria for onboard commercial aircraft networks, where the cost of failure is unacceptable. The vendors cannot and should not self-certify any cyber-security criteria for commercial aircraft. There is just too much room for self-serving agendas.
1. Shut down all inflight entertainment and WiFi capabilities immediately until proper open source evaluations are conducted. Yes, that means turning off Skype, Facebook, eMail and streaming in the air while a secure workable method is designed.
a. Stringent security guidelines and minimum specifications are necessary for the Public Safety.
b. Security by obscurity will not be tolerated. It has been suggested that onboard systems cannot be disclosed for security reasons. There are only two possible concerns here.
i. The entertainment and avionics systems are in fact connected, and fear of flaw and exposure hinders open source security efforts.
ii. The entertainment/internet system is indeed isolated, but for fear of loss of profits, refuses to discuss security controls.
iii. Either approach, when it comes to Public Safety First is unacceptable. Security controls should be a Public Relation Benefit. A plus. A big positive. These guys have a lot to learn.
2. Avionics, airplane communications and other onboard systems must be isolated from any customer or internet facing services.
a. Public networks may not be physically connected nor connected by any wireless means to any other onboard aircraft navigation or control systems.
b. Separate physical wiring shall be used for each system
c. Air-to-ground communications and those from the aircraft to public systems shall be electronically isolated from aircraft communications, via separate channels and through acceptable cryptographic isolation where physical isolation is not possible.
d. Both solutions will be subject to the same level of assurance verification.
3. Validation of the cyber-security of onboard systems shall be performed on a periodic basis, and prior to any onboard upgrades of either public or internal systems.
a. At least two third parties, non-affiliated with any aircraft manufacturing concerns, will ‘red-team’ a benign environment, fully functional aircraft, to assess vulnerabilities prior to deployment.
b. Aircraft manufacturers and their suppliers will be required to ‘open source’ their security protocols, for peer review, just as cryptographic algorithms do.
c. All systems should be subject to a Common Criteria evaluation and certification, in addition to Red Teaming, for each revision and deployment.
4. Reporting of any aircraft network system vulnerability shall not be considered a crime, until specific intent of harm is implicit.
5. We will aggressively attempt to assemble the Pen Teams to verify the security of targeted aircraft and systems.
a. All activities will be documented
b. All activities will be made public
c. Aircraft suppliers will cooperate in any way requested in the interest of public safety.
I believe I have the moral imperative, and offer an effective zero-cost method to solve a problem and restore public confidence before it becomes deadly. Would someone give me the mathematics of human life for the bullshit mantra, “It hasn’t happened yet, so why should I worry?”
Been there. Done that. We know that doesn’t work.
With aircraft, ‘hacking’ the electronics is only one vector of concern. In the mid-1990s, long discussions were held about the influence of EMI, accidental or incidental electromagnetic interference caused by portable electronics on the plane’s electronic integrity. Today, we are permitted to use certain devices throughout a flight. EMI breeds the potential for intentional electronic disruption of flight systems through the intentional introduction of EMI using a variety of high power discharge technologies.
Additionally, an open source investigation into the security of GPS and communications systems, using a Red Team approach is in the best interest of the flying public, and should occur in tandem with the onboard systems security review. While these two vectors may be of low probability, any discussion about cyber-security and air safety belongs in the public view.
Please get this or a similar message of your preference to:
-‐ The FAA http://www.faa.gov/contact/
-‐ The NTSB http://app.ntsb.gov/pubmail/pubmail.aspx
-‐ Your Airline(s)
-‐ Your Congresspeople http://www.contactingthecongress.org/
-‐ Air Safety Groups
Please spend 1 hour in the next week making some noise. I really don’t want to see the headlines.
Let me know your thoughts!
CEO, The Security Awareness Company
Phi Beta Iota: Below is the video and the article that summarizes the situation and also has some very intelligent (as well as some less intelligent) comments. The publisher is to be commended for allowing full spectrum comments to appear. Robert Steele's comment is reproduced below.
FBI docs: Banned hacker says he commandeered a plane
ROBERT STEELE: I was a co-founder with Winn Schwartau of the Information Warfare Conference, and the opening speaker at Hackers on Planet Earth in 1994. I still remember some early papers from the US Air War College laying out very clearly how hackable all electronic systems are — indeed, NSA's greatest non-secret is that the Chinese have been riding the electrical circuits into US Government computers that are not linked directly to the Internet. Bottom line — as I said on RT recently — is that the US Government has been criminally irresponsible in allowing industry to buy its way out of fundamental code level security — our entire cyber-world is a house of cards, and it is legislative corruption and corporate malfesance that makes it so. Although NSA was tasked in 1994 with protecting US commercial communications and computers, they chose instead to create infantile back-doors with the active connivance of the CEOs of Google, HP, Dell, Microsoft, and others (this is all a matter of public record). I have to wonder why those CEOs are not being made destitute by their betrayed stakeholders. Cars — and airplanes — can indeed be hacked. They can also be electromagentic pulse-bombed. I make these statements with the hope that some real investigative journalism will occur, and that the FBI will sound a proper alarm that leads Congress and the Executive to mandate a Manhattan scale project toward open source everything engineering (see my Open Source Everything Manifesto). If you live by lies, you die by lies. Time the public got upset about this. IMHO. #ElectoralReform – OpenPower is my proposed solution to the larger issue of lost integrity across all systems.
UPDATE 2 (Dumb BBC article + Related 2)
BBC Lite: FBI flight hacker claims queried by security experts
BBC: US airline to reward bug-finding hackers (but not on in-flight systems)
GAO-15-370 Air Traffic Control – FAA Needs a More Comprehensive Approach to Address Cybersecurity as Agency Transitions to NextGen
The Security Ledger: GAO Warns of Cyber Risks In-Flight
WIRED: United Will Reward People Who Flag Security Flaws—Sort Of
WIRED: Hacker’s Tweet Reignites Ugly Battle Over Security Holes
RELATED (Update 1)
Disappearing Malaysian Airlines 370 @ Phi Beta Iota
Review: INFORMATION WARFARE–Chaos on the Electronic Superhighway
Review: WORM – The First Digital World War
Robert Steele: YouTube (4:01) RT Interview on NSA, Cyber-Vulernability, and Government Irresponsibility Since 1988
Cyber Security @ Phi Beta Iota
Winn Schwartau @ Phi Beta Iota
1990-2014 Steele on Specific Intelligence Reforms (Including Alarm on NSA from 1994 Onwards)