According to FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) Boeing’s B787 Dreamliner has serious IT security vulnerabilty on its onboard computer networks.
FAA pointed out in a “Special Conditions” document, that the network used for public internet access on board is connected with the same network used for key navigation and operation data. It is also connected to the communication between the plane and ground crew.
The cockpit of Boeing 787
Boeing said they were aware of the problem and the fact FAA was about to publish this document. Although they did not agree with all statments of the document, they had already started working on a solution. Acoording to Boeing spokeswoman the networks are not fully connected to each other and it would be impossible to access navigation via the public network, however they will find a new way to secure the onboard system before production starts.
IT security professionals say software firewalls are not effective enough in such cases as they are hackable. The only solution is to physically disconnect the two networks from each other.
There are airlines that have started the introduction of on board internet, but these do not plan any connectivity with the plane’s own computer or communication system. Jetblue is about to test a very limited type of on board intetrnet; only Yahoo emails and instant messaging system will be available due to bandwidth concerns. American Airlines is planning a much broader web browsing access, but the whole project is under investigation as they are not sure it will pay off.
More information on the issue is expected for next week.