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Using mobiles on planes.

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Using mobiles on planes.

Old 11th Apr 2013, 09:12
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Using mobiles on planes.

I guess this'll generate the usual 10 page flame war about using mobiles on planes.

Researcher hacks aircraft controls with Android smartphone ? The Register
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Old 11th Apr 2013, 09:34
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The smartphone aspect is a bit of a red herring. He used an smartphone with an external radio. The same exploit could be done using a laptop, a tablet, or just a box of electronics.

Given that this is 'spoofing' radio messages, there's also absolutely no reason why an attacker would be on the plane. Easier for them to sit on the ground and do it remotely.

Still, it's an interesting article/presentation and nice work.
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Old 11th Apr 2013, 09:37
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Now this is half a story designed to create a scare on limited facts.

The story's only real specifics refer to interference with comms. Specifically ACARS (VHF) and ADS-B (the SSR 1090MHz frequency).

Now I am no expert on Android phones but am pretty certain they do not have capabilities on either of those frequencies. So what is Mr Teso really saying? That the device can be used to control jamming equipment on these frequencies? So could just about any other programmable device.

Whatever this story is, it is certainly not a "mobile phones on aircraft story". It simply boils down to a much older and well known issue of the vulnerability of ACARS and ADS-B. Is there seriously any aircraft that can have its systems re-programmed over ACARS without any flight crew intervention or knowledge?

Last edited by Dont Hang Up; 11th Apr 2013 at 09:40.
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Old 11th Apr 2013, 09:44
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In my eyes nothing but BS
To be exact the headline should be:
Researcher hacks virtual aircraft controls with Android smartphone
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Old 11th Apr 2013, 09:47
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In my eyes nothing but BS
To be exact the headline should be:
Researcher hacks virtual aircraft controls with Android smartphone
Yes indeed. Flight simmers should be deeply worried by this development.

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Old 11th Apr 2013, 09:51
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Tech Log thread already running on this:

http://www.pprune.org/tech-log/51230...onference.html
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Old 11th Apr 2013, 10:03
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mobiles and aircraft systems

I flew the J41 for Eastern between age 60/65 as I was unemployable elsewhere.

We had a number of problems with the pod smoke warning system which seemed to activate whenever mobile was used in a particular seat. The wiring for the system routed under that seat. When we got stroppy with the pax the system warnings always ceased

It seems that some systems and installations, designed before mobile phones, are vulnerable to induced surged when the mobile phone goes to high power seeking a mast. Some of these older systems are still used in modern aircraft.

It seems cable shielding is the key issue
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Old 11th Apr 2013, 11:41
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It does appear that there have been numerous proposals for encrypting or otherwise securing ACARS messages for quite some time (i.e., a decade or more). Perhaps this will prompt swifter action.
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Old 11th Apr 2013, 15:00
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Wifi

At Norwegian, wifi is proposed from and to FL 100. Passengers who have smart phones then go out of the airplane mode to connect. There has been no problem so far though the phones enter search mode in parallel with wifi.

Who is right?
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Old 11th Apr 2013, 16:21
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This is a misleading thread title, largely no doubt due to the poor quality of the press coverage and the emphasis placed there on the use of a mobile phone in a demonstration. The vulnerabilities discussed by Hugo are very real and exist, but mobile phones are not a part of the potential attack vector, it just happened to be an interface he used for this demonstration.
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Old 11th Apr 2013, 20:33
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I flew the J41 for Eastern between age 60/65 as I was unemployable elsewhere.

We had a number of problems with the pod smoke warning system which seemed to activate whenever mobile was used in a particular seat. The wiring for the system routed under that seat. When we got stroppy with the pax the system warnings always ceased

It seems that some systems and installations, designed before mobile phones, are vulnerable to induced surged when the mobile phone goes to high power seeking a mast. Some of these older systems are still used in modern aircraft.

It seems cable shielding is the key issue
That's a good example of proof that mobile phones can, on rare occasions, cause interference.
I also use the example of the Mythbusters test where they build a replica cockpit with a heap of instruments, used a mobile phone near it and a lot of the clocks went a bit crazy. But then they found that it happened because of the non-shielded wire they were using. They replaced all the plain wire with shielded wire and all the problems went away.
So for anyone to say that mobile phones can't affect aircraft systems, all you have to do is prove to me that 100% of the wiring on 100% of aircraft is perfectly shielded and I'll be happy.
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Old 12th Apr 2013, 05:34
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Passengers who have smart phones then go out of the airplane mode to connect. There has been no problem so far though the phones enter search mode in parallel with wifi.
Not necessarily. On Android when in Aeroplane Mode, one can activate Wifi but leave the mobile/cell part of it off. Same same Bluetooth.

Last edited by Capn Bloggs; 12th Apr 2013 at 05:34.
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Old 13th Apr 2013, 00:28
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In a previous life (1997/9) I worked in flight calibration - we tested Nav aids. Our testing kit was regularly calibrated. Cellphones were analogue - they are digital nowadays. When calibrating our kit a signal generator that replicates an ILS ground station was connected via a well shielded cable to our "ILS" kit (receiver). If I walked up and down the workshop with my cell phone switched on I could watch the glide slope needle change from full fly up to full fly down, depending on my distance from our kit. I know analogue cell phones can cause interferance to an ILS. I don't know if digital ones can. Also, AC wiring is much more protected today.
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Old 13th Apr 2013, 08:46
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Rest of the world calls shenanigans on the original report ...

FAA: 'No, you CAN'T hijack a plane with an Android app' ? The Register
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Old 13th Apr 2013, 13:49
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Well! At EK the pax have wifi Internet and mobile phone useage on just about all of the fleet. 380, 777, 330 and 340. Never had the aeroplane flip over into a 'death dive' yet
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Old 13th Apr 2013, 23:50
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Modern A/C I hope would be harden so it should not effect them. Older designs will still have unshielded wiring. Also, the technology is digital now, the old technology I referred to was analogue.
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Old 14th Apr 2013, 00:22
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alnicol

The smartphone aspect is a bit of a red herring. He used an smartphone with an external radio. The same exploit could be done using a laptop, a tablet, or just a box of electronics.

Given that this is 'spoofing' radio messages, there's also absolutely no reason why an attacker would be on the plane. Easier for them to sit on the ground and do it remotely.

Still, it's an interesting article/presentation and nice work.
Both ARINC and STIA allow messages from various devices including pagers to be uplinked as an ACARS message. See the slide 'Access Methods'. There is no need to have an ACARS radio frequency - just the capability to send a malformed message. However, Tesa also showed he obtained the ground station capability too by buying systems on ebay.

There are multiple ways this can be exploited. It makes sense to be cautious.

Last edited by Ian W; 14th Apr 2013 at 00:22.
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Old 14th Apr 2013, 10:06
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Using mobiles on planes.
Let's not.

( and nothing to do with interference of electronics, more to do with interference of my enjoyment of life without the damned things. )
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Old 16th Apr 2013, 13:07
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If it happens lets allocate seating to all those who feel they have to use their phones "Hi, I'm on the plane" at the back, that should keep them out of the way nicely.
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Old 16th Apr 2013, 20:23
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The actual frequency of the radio is not what allows a signal in. It is a little bit more refined than that. The details of which I won't share here. But as I mentioned on another thread, this is possible if you know how to approach the problem. Easier to call it bullshit and put your head in the sand.

Last edited by Vortex what...ouch!; 16th Apr 2013 at 20:24.
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