Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Boeing 787 potentially vulnerable to passenger software-based hijacking

The Boeing 787 Dreamliner is equipped with systems to provide passengers with on-board Internet access. Unfortunately, the passenger network is also connected to the computer systems that control the plane, as well as communication and navigation systems, which the FAA has complained about in a "special conditions" document that covers issues that are a concern but are not specifically covered by regulations.

Boeing says it has designed a solution that it will be testing shortly, and the FAA says that has to happen before any of these will be allowed to fly.

A Boeing spokesperson claims that the FAA document criticizing the design is misleading because, as Wired reports, "the plane's networks don't completely connect." She goes on in the article to say that there's a combination of physical separation and software-based firewalls. Given the fact that software-based firewalls have themselves had vulnerabilities from time to time, I'd strongly prefer to see complete physical separation.

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