Following the news that fears of a campaign of cyber attacks on leading airlines have grown after a “systems issue” delayed dozens of United Airlines flights worldwide, Mark James, security specialist at ESET commented below.
Mark James, Security Specialist at ESET:
Could these system issues potentially be the result of a cyberattack?
“Typically these systems are well established, well used and some have been around for a while, that’s not to say they are not safe, but like any software the potential for compromise is there and should certainly not be ignored. However, waving the cyberattack flag just because systems are down will often do nothing except cause concern with no foundation. Businesses all over the world both large and small suffer IT problems, that’s the nature of IT sadly.”
Why do hackers go after airlines?
“If cyberattacks are used to cause harm then it makes sense to target areas that will have the biggest impact both through damage and PR exposure. If those infrastructures heavily rely on IT to make everything fit into place then disrupting that technology will cause the most harm, flying is still considered the safest way to travel.”
What type of damage could a cyberattack against an airline cause?
“If the systems were to be compromised then of course the outcome could be catastrophic. As technology is used more and more in doing the mundane jobs humans had at one time then the risks increase as well. IT systems control passenger information, airplane on-board systems and of course have the ability to control its manoeuvre’s in flight. If these were to be compromised then in theory the plane “could” end up anywhere under someone else’s control.”