Hackers Expose Holes in Air Traffic Safety

Vulnerabilities abound ahead of planned $20B FAA upgrade
By Jess Kilby,  Newser User
Posted May 7, 2009 7:45 AM CDT
Air traffic controllers, from left to right: Karl Haynes, Jr.; Danika Dry-Rodriguez, and Stephen Boyd, work in the control tower at Washington's Reagan National Airport, Thursday, Sept. 18, 2008.   (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
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(Newser) – Civilian air traffic computer networks are riddled with security holes, and hackers have breached them several times in the past few years, the Wall Street Journal reports. Intruders could gain access to operational systems by first hacking into administrative areas using 763 separate “high risk” holes in those systems, according to a new report, which recommends that the FAA add more intrusion sensors to its networks.

Only 11 of the FAA’s 734 facilities have such sensors, the report notes—and they’re all on administrative networks, not operational ones. The report also criticized the agency for 50 breaches that have gone unresolved for at least 3 months each. The FAA disputed the findings of the report, arguing that operational systems can’t be reached through administrative areas, but an agency rep also said it “is identifying and fixing weaknesses.”