Skip to comments.Was Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 hacked?
Posted on 03/16/2014 10:39:33 PM PDT by RC one
WASHINGTON -- Evidence is surfacing that system failure in the cockpit of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 may have caused the plane's disappearance and investigators are wondering if foul play may have been involved.
Reports that two key communication and location systems on the Boeing 777 reportedly shutdown sequentially, while the plane continued to fly for hours, has granted credence to the possibility the plane's systems could have been physically sabotaged or electronically compromised.
WTOP has learned that Boeing had been concerned about the possibility the plane's systems could be hacked and had previously contacted the Federal Aviation Administration.
On August 21, 2012, Boeing applied for permission to change the equipment to be installed as part of an onboard data network system upgrade on the 777 series of planes.
According to information listed in the Federal Register the existing "data network and design integration may result in security vulnerabilities from intentional or unintentional corruption of data and systems critical to the safety and maintenance of the airplane."
The bottom line, according to language in the Federal Register, "The integrated network configurations in the Boeing Model 777-200, -300, and -300ER series airplanes may enable increased connectivity with external network sources and will have more interconnected networks and systems, such as passenger entertainment and information services than previous airplane models. This may enable the exploitation of network security vulnerabilities and increased risks potentially resulting in unsafe conditions for the airplanes and occupants."
Boeing appeared to worry that USB connection points on the seatbacks in some of the 777 airplanes could be vulnerable, considering the interconnectivity.
There was also concern that unauthorized access to the plane in the maintenance stage could cause damage.
In November 2013, special conditions were approved allowing Boeing to make changes on the 777 planes.
The plausibility of hacking into an airplane while in flight was presented as a reality in April 2013, by Spanish researcher Hugo Teso at a presentation during at the Hack-In-The-Box security summit in Amsterdam.
Teso ostensibly proved that using an Android smartphone and specific code, he could take control of aircraft flight and communication.
He claimed he could use his "attack code" called SIMON and an Android application called PlaneSploit to take full control of not only the systems on board the plane, but the pilot's display.
The FAA quickly responded saying it was not possible to fully take control of an aircraft, as had been alleged.
At the time, Teso outlined what he called vulnerabilities in the Automated Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) and Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS) systems, saying of the aviation industry in general, they are not ready to face this kind of attack.
ADB-S and ACAR are among systems on the plane that authorities have acknowledged were possibly compromised in some way.
As investigators have worked their way through the broad range of theories regarding what happened to Malaysian Airlines flight MH370, Malaysian authorities are looking closely at sabotage as a possible cause.
A couple questions for anyone who might know:
1. Can the ACARS system be shut off from within the cockpit? Or does someone have to physically leave(be outside) the cockpit in order to deactivate it?
2. Once the ACARS system is turned off, can it be seen as turned off from within the cockpit? In other words, is there a display in the cockpit that shows whether or not the ACARS system is active or not?
9M-MRO was a 200ER, which is not listed.
So the paper does not apply in this case.
In the cockpit you can turn off the VHF, HF, and SATCOM links that ACARS uses to send data.
Effectively, that stops the reports.
Why would Boeing put USB ports on the backs of passenger seats that could interconnect to the Flight systems?
That is insane.
Is putting a 5 pound server on the plane going to cost them that much per year in fuel that they cant justify the cost?
Why do customers need USB ports anyway other than charging their phones? WiFi seems like a better idea anyway. But of course keep your flight systems off the WiFi network.
But the VHF or HF is needed for verbal communication with the ATC tower, is that correct?
You tell the ACARS system not to use them.
That would be more accurate.
What I’m hung up on is that the ACARS system was turned off while still over land in Malaysia, before the pilot(copilot or hijacker) acknowledged ATC verbally before entering Vietnamese airspace.
Some basic information that I would find helpful, would be if they would allow some friends of the pilot and copilot to listen to the acknowledgment to ATC, in order to potentially confirm who was at the controls at that time.
I believe I read somewhere that it was the pilot, but I can’t find where I read that, so take it with a grain of salt.
If they have been hacked then the days of commercial aviation are over.
Effectively, that stops the reports."
Amazing that this can be done in a post 9/11 world.
I must be made head of world wide aviation.
simple child like capabiklity to prevent the tracking of aircraft, so it never happens again.
What I have read is that this was possibly intended to buy time...because they were in between air spaces, apparently, before things got more suspicious. Some aviation forums I was reading the other night...
IF....if indeed terrorist no matter their origin can hack any modern jet was possible I honestly believe it will first off be an all out campaign to knock the rumor down, at any cost, even if it means pulling the plug on the internet. NSA, CIA, any of the agencies will NOT want that rumor to expand.
Seriously, if the public became aware it was even possible there would be a mass panic of flyers, people would refuse to fly unless in a Cessna 150.
Lets assume for a moment it could happen, think of the repercussions to the airline industry, also think of this event as being a “trial run” successful or not, if it was then its already successful.
This all out terrorism, creating fear, fear of attacking Moslems worldwide, because now they have the means and ways to indiscriminately just yank a plane out of the sky, kill all or most on board and then crash it, without even being aboard.
I was a USAF air traffic controller for 20 years. Towers only control the airport, to about 10 miles. Beyond that, to about 40 to 50 miles, the terminal radar control facility (TRACON, USAF-RAPCON) controls the aircraft. Beyond that, enroute facilities take over. VHF/UHF radios are used. In the past, I believe HF was used over water, but I would suspect that is a thing of the past, with today's sophisticated communications capabilities. Aircraft do not communicate with towers, except within the airport traffic area (10 or so miles) I hope that helps a little.
What about all the passenger’s cell phones? So many questions.
this was the work of a government with immense technical resources. Hacking planes falls into the realm of possible.
If they have been hacked then the days of commercial aviation are over.
I don’t know if it was hacked but I would bet money that it was hackable and I would bet money that this is the work of a government and that Electronic Warfare was used.
Kinda makes me go hmmmm...
Russians claimed recently they brought down a US drone by remotely overwhelming it and then controlling it.
If thats possible then the Chinese could as well.
As long as we're all allowed to speculate, does Iran need specific expertise to help them get beyond the software viruses that have plagued their nuclear program? Or was there expertise on that plane that could help them with missile guidance systems?
I didn’t know that. Thanks for the info.
I imagine military aircraft rely more on VHF than on transponders relaying their position.
So when the media reports that the pilot’s last communication was with Air Traffic Control, it may not have been with the nearest airport’s tower(likely was not), but may have been with the nearest Enroute Facility or TRACON facility. Or however they might name such similar facilities in that part of the world.
The way I see it, there are three likely possibilities. There was something or someone on that plane that A.) at all costs, could not be allowed to land in Beijing or b.) that, at all costs, needed to be secured by Beijing. Less likely, though certainly equally worthy of consideration, is C.) a government or organization that needed to secure a Boeing 777 by theft in order to use it later to infiltrate someone's airspace, most likely US airspace, with some kind of a weapon, a weapon big and bad enough to justify a conspiracy of this magnitude.
I keep thinking Iran needed techs for its nuclear ambitions, because what few they had met a sudden termination.
If they cannot get them willingly then just capture a whole herd of them.
Whatever its takes to eradicate Israel. I would believe the pilot was under duress or offered a large sum to deliver his human cargo of tech experts to Iran, does anyone know WHERE his family is, are they hostages?
Iran absolutely has the motive but do they have the technological savvy to steal a Boeing 777 out of Chinese airspace? Who else has a motive to steal American technology? China. They have been doing it for decades and it was their airspace and they have the electronic warfare capability to pull something like this off and if we figured out what they were up too before they pulled it off, we have the technological and military capability to stop them.
cell phone signals can easily be jammed. We do it all the time.
China wouldn’t have to steal a 777 and potentially provoke a massive international crisis in order to attain whatever knowledge/technology they ‘may’ have been seeking. Not to mention potentially provoke massive unrest inside China should the operation go badly and it became known the govt willingly/knowingly participated in the ‘disappearance’ of some 152 of it’s own citizens.
And from what I’ve read the plane wasn’t tracked in Chinese airspace. Civilian contact was lost between Malaysia and Vietnam, while military radar contact was lost somewhere just North of Indonesia. The plane POTENTIALLY COULD have traveled as far North into Chinese airspace, but that’s not determinable at this time.
I’m realizing I may have asked my earlier question on the wrong thread.
Well, pretty much everything on the plane will need to at least have a circuit breaker in case of electrical problems.
They are not going to put anything electrical on the plane that cannot be shut off.
Now, what they could do is add one or two ways to contact the outside world from the cabin, so that the flight attendants or passengers could make a distress call. Make it so this could be shut off if necessary, but not from the cockpit.
Keep it as separate from the cockpit as it can be made.
Something on that particular Boeing 777 was more important than the lives of 239 people and it’s final destination was to be Beijing China. Do the math.
If the reports of the tracking systems shutdown occuring before handoff to VN air space are true, how was the handoff even completed? Would ATC have some idea/indication that the tracking systems were off line?
I’ll do the math as I see it. Any cargo or personnel that China wished to steal/abduct from the plane could’ve been stolen/abducted once the plane landed in Beijing as normal. With MUCH less international attention, not to mention it would’ve been MUCH easier to pull off, and it would’ve been MUCH more of a reliable operation once the plane was already on the ground in Beijing.
There were two tracking systems that were shutdown. The ACARS system was shutdown while still over Malaysia, however, the plane’s transponder apparently wasn’t shutoff until right before or right after the ‘handoff’ was made between the Malaysians and Vietnamese.
The pilot was made aware by people on the ground that he was about to enter Vietnamese airspace, he acknowledged and said, ‘All right, good night’ or ‘All right, roger that’(depending on which version is true). Very soon after his acknowledgement the transponder was turned off.
From what I gather, because the plane was right in between the two countries airspace, it allowed the plane a few minutes to make a drastic route change to the west-southwest. And also from what I gather by the time the ground people thought there might be in issue the plane was already many miles away in a different direction.
There is only one question. Can pilots actually manually fly a plane anymore? The answer is it seems unlikely.
Read this link
Mark17, thank you for your service.
We still use HF over water. For example, I can go any where in the Caribbean on VHF, but I have to us HF to Bermuda.
And I for one am going to applaud wild speculation. This whole situation is way out of the ordinary, and using it as an opportunity to explore what is and is not possible is healthy brainstorming.
This one is worthy of a James Bond movie. I don't subscribe to any specific theory, by the way, just enjoying reading them and waiting to find out which one was closest to the truth. It's a great world-wide mystery. I just wish we could find out already.
Oh man, you beat me to it!
Affirmative sir. When I was in Travis AFB Tower, we simulcasted on both VHF/UHF frequencies for ground control and tower control. You can google the frequencies. They have not changed since I retired in 1987.
How one could get good at that is with endless hours of simulator time.
So by that logic I should be able to play pro football since I have an xBox.
I've not seen it done on an X-Box, but oh, yeah, that was your inexperienced, extrapolated non sequitur.
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