We spent more than a few minutes reading up on the details of the hack (because we've got a lot of time to burn today, you see, on account of the aforementioned incident). Hugo Teso, a security researcher for the German IT consultancy N.Runs, gave a presentation claiming to show how a properly amplified Android phone could break into the software that guides commercial aircraft. He's not talking about confusing the airplanes, which would be bad enough, though the software can do that as well.
Teso's claim is more dramatic; by exploiting holes in flight management software, he can actually tell airplanes what to do. He can make them turn left. Or turn right. Or dip their nose and dive into the ground. We still haven't untangled everything, but it sounds like what he did was combine the ability to send data over a relatively insecure communication channel with bugs that turned his "communication" into commands. Good times.
Airline safety groups say Teso's trick could never work on a real airplane, and that basically he has no idea what he's talking about. Fingers crossed they're right. If he's just flat making things up, he'd at least have something in common with the PHL US Air people.
So angry, we are, right now.
[Photo: Dirk-Jan Kraan / Flickr]