Sanjeev Relia says: In a recent incident in USA, a gentleman by the name of Andy Greenberg was speeding along a busy interstate in St. Louis recently when he suddenly lost control of his vehicle, a Jeep Cherokee. The accelerator abruptly stopped working. The car crawled to a stop. The vents in the vehicle started blasting cold air at the maximum and the radio switched to the local hip hop station and began blaring at full volume. The entire scene looks like a scene out of a spooky Hollywood movie. But it was not. His car hadn’t been hit by another vehicle or experienced engine trouble. It had been hacked!
Mr. Andy Greenberg was lucky. His car was hacked by two White Hats as part of a demonstration to show what a hacker can do to an automobile loaded with high technology. The incident highlighted shocking security vulnerabilities of our cars, something we rely on so much. The incidence also throws up another concern which could have serious repercussions. If this is what could be done to a automobile whose reliance on the internet and other hi-tech gadgets is not so much, what can be done to a commercial airliner which completely relies on hi-tech gadgetry. What would happen if a hacker could gain access to some critical systems such as navigation and communications of a commercial flight? The flight could lose its path and direction or the piolet may not be able to communicate with the ATC. In the worst possible case scenario, the hacker could even make the flight crash. That perhaps would be the worst kind of act of cyber terrorism because it could result in death of a large number of innocent and unsuspecting people.
As per a report based on a study carried out by the US aviation industry, one third of avionic communication systems of any commercial flight today connect to the Internet. This figure is expected to reach as high as sixty percent in the next five years. If that be the case, then there is an urgent requirement to ensure that a cyber security layer is built into such systems. In fact it is not just aircrafts which need to take care of cyber security issues. All modes of public transport systems have to be made safe enough so that no hacker can break into its hi-tech systems and cause damage to life, property and equipment.
Read the experiences of Andy Greenberg “Hackers Remotely Kill a Jeep on the Highway—With Me in It” at http://www.wired.com/2015/07/hackers-remotely-kill-jeep-highway/