The Department of Homeland Security has issued a security alert for small planes, warning that modern flight systems are vulnerable to hacking if someone manages to gain physical access to the aircraft. Engine readings, compass data, altitude and other readings “could all be manipulated to provide false measurements to the pilot,” according to the DHS alert.
The issue, which was discovered by a Boston-based cybersecurity company and reported to the federal government, found that an attacker could potentially disrupt electronic messages transmitted across a small plane’s network. For example, by attaching a small device to its wiring, that would affect aircraft systems.
This latest warning reflects the fact that aircraft systems are increasingly reliant on networked communications systems, much like modern cars. But unlike the airline industry, the auto industry has already taken steps to address similar concerns after researchers exposed vulnerabilities.