Cyberattack Grounds Aircraft

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The Polish national airline, LOT, announced on Sunday that it has cancelled 10 flights due to a cyber attack against the airline’s ground computer systems at Warsaw’s Okecie airport.

“Today afternoon LOT encountered IT attack, that affected our ground operation systems. As a result we’re not able to create flight plans and outbound flights from Warsaw are not able to depart. We’d like to underline, that it has no influence on plane systems. Aircraft, that are already airborne will continue their flights. Planes with flight plans already filed will return to Warsaw normally.” states the official statement from the Polish flagship carrier LOT.

The attack occurred at around 4:00 pm local time and was resolved by 9:00 pm.

“This is the first attack of its kind,” said the LOT spokesman Adrian Kubicki. “At no point was the safety of ongoing flights compromised, and flights destined for Warsaw were able to land safely. No other airports were affected” “We’re using state-of-the-art computer systems, so this could potentially be a threat to others in the industry”.

The ground computer systems are used by the carriers to manage the flight plans for the airline. According to the company, the cyber attack against LOT made impossible for the Polish Airline LOT to complete the creation of new flight plans and many flights were not able to depart from the Airport of Warsaw. Law enforcement and security agencies immediately started the investigation of the  attack.

It’s not a good period for the aviation industry, many experts are warning about possible hacking attacks on every component involved in the sector. Modern aircraft are sophisticated computing systems that are connected to the Internet and that could be targeted by hackers and cyber terrorists.

We have recently discussed on the possibility to take control of planes remotely or manipulate the vehicle exploiting on board systems like the passenger entertainment system. In May 2015, the computer security researcher Chris Roberts reported to the FBI that he obtained the control of at least one commercial flight causing it to “climb”.

united airlines flight speaking of LOT systems hack

The International Civil Aviation Organization has remarked several times that cyber attacks represent a serious threat to safety in the skies inviting all the experts in the industry to carefully consider cyber security of the aircraft and of aircraft control systems.

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Pierluigi Paganini is Chief Information Security Officer at Bit4Id, firm leader in identity management, member of the ENISA (European Union Agency for Network and Information Security)Treat Landscape Stakeholder Group, he is also a Security Evangelist, Security Analyst and Freelance Writer. Editor-in-Chief at “Cyber Defense Magazine”, Pierluigi is a cyber security expert with over 20 years experience in the field, he is Certified Ethical Hacker at EC Council in London. The passion for writing and a strong belief that security is founded on sharing and awareness led Pierluigi to find the security blog “Security Affairs” recently named a Top National Security Resource for US. Pierluigi is a member of the “The Hacker News” team and he is a writer for some major publications in the field such as Cyber War Zone, ICTTF, Infosec Island, Infosec Institute, The Hacker News Magazine and for many other Security magazines. Author of the Books “The Deep Dark Web” and “Digital Virtual Currency and Bitcoin”.