Next Generation Air Traffic Control

There was a video from Defcon 20 (2012) which was titled “Hacker + Airplanes = No Good Can Come Of This” which in of itself is a terrifying title. The talk brings up a wonderful insight about the new revision for air traffic control, the fact that it sends traffic unencrypted and unauthenticated over 1090 MHz. It also references some other talks about hacking plane Wi-Fi (and some plane systems being on the same network). On top of that the system may be tied into autopilot in some implementations which means you can remotely control them by spoofing planes. People are able to build an antenna pretty easily:
File:Homemade 1090 MHz ADS-B dipole antenna.jpg

Which allows them to watch any nearby air traffic, for example (flight paths):

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The presentation also described a number of threats/issues:

In:

  • Injection
    • What happens if I tell you theres a plane in front of you?
  • Fuzzing
    • Are there protections against fuzzing?
    • What happens if I tell you theres 5000 invalid planes near you?
  • Spoofing
    • What happens if I tell the airport you’re not where you actually are?
    • What are the protocols for dealing with multiple aircrafts with the same identifier?

Out:

  • Tracking
    • Anyone can track airplanes
    • What about “secret” airplanes?

And finally the presenter showed a terrifying proof of concept for the Injection threat by broadcasting a flight simulator game with real life planes. If he was actually broadcasting (which he wasn’t for legal reasons) his virtual plane would show up as “YOURMOM” on the air traffic control radar.
2015-02-22-202414_636x355_scrot

The reason I have brought this up again today is that I haven’t seen any newer information on this to prove that they have actually done something to fix this. This is terrifying and should be addressed, but it doesn’t seem to be.

There was a number of articles published about the video:
http://www.forbes.com/sites/andygreenberg/2012/07/25/next-gen-air-traffic-control-vulnerable-to-hackers-spoofing-planes-out-of-thin-air/

Actual video link:

Slide Deck:
http://korben.info/wp-content/uploads/defcon/SpeakerPresentations/Renderman/DEFCON-20-RenderMan-Hackers-plus-Airplanes.pdf

Edward Mead

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