Black Hat and DEF CON to Highlight Increase in Aircraft Hacking Risks

By |2019-08-23T16:46:15+00:00August 1st, 2019|

With the Black Hat and DEF CON conventions – the mecca for both information security professionals and hackers alike – taking place in Las Vegas this month, one major industry focus this year is aviation software vulnerabilities.

Black Hat, which runs Aug. 3 – 8, features a presentation on the Boeing 787 software system and weaknesses hackers have found that put the security of the network at risk.

DEF CON, set for Aug. 8 – 11, has its own Aviation Village, which includes breakout sessions about the increasing technology used by aircrafts and the growing risks that technology brings. The aviation-hacking theme is especially timely with a recent Department of Homeland Security (DHS) warning that small aircrafts can be especially vulnerable to hackers as well as the recent safety concerns following two Boeing 737 Max crashes.

In the DHS warning, officials warned pilots that hackers might be able to gain access to an aircraft’s controller area network (CAN) bus, which is hardware used by the aircraft to allow devices to communicate in applications without a host computer. Hackers who access the CAN bus can input false data, resulting in false readings and equipment malfunction.

The Federal Aviation Administration reported a sensor malfunction in the Boeing 737 Max caused two of the aircrafts to crash in five months. The Indonesia Lion Air crash took place in October, killing 189 people. The Ethiopian Airlines crash in March killed 157 passengers.