Boeing rules out cyber sabotage connection to missing plane

By J.J. Green


More Reports


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string(519) “In this Monday, March 24, 2014 photo, crewmen on board an RAAF AP-3C Orion aircraft look at their radar screens whilst searching for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 over the Indian Ocean. After 17 days of desperation and doubt over the missing Malaysia Airlines jet, Malaysian officials on Monday said an analysis of satellite data points to a ”heartbreaking” conclusion: Flight 370 met its end in the southern reaches of the Indian Ocean, and none of those aboard survived. (AP Photo/Richard Wainwright, Pool)”
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WASHINGTON — The difficult search for answers about the disappearance of
Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 is compounded by the inability to find either the
plane intact or the wreckage.

Malaysian officials said in an emotional press
conference they believe the plane crashed into the Indian Ocean.

As authorities try to figure out where the wreckage is and why it crashed,
manufacturer Boeing has all but ruled out a cyber-attack on the plane.

“We won’t engage in speculation regarding this event,” said Boeing spokeswoman
Gayla L. Keller in a statement to WTOP on Monday, March 24.

“We are confident in the robust protection of all flight critical systems and
inability for a hacker to gain access by either external or internal means on the
777 and all Boeing airplanes.”

WTOP reported on March 14 that Boeing was concerned about the possibility the
plane’s systems could be hacked and previously contacted the Federal Aviation
Administration.

On Aug. 21, 2012, Boeing applied for permission to change the equipment to be
installed as part of an on-board 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.”

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.”

In November 2013, special conditions were approved allowing Boeing to make changes
on the 777 planes.

It’s not clear whether all security upgrades to planes are complete.
As investigators dig into what happened to the plane, a check of publicly
available flight records for the missing aircraft identified as MSN 28420 – 9M-
MRO, raise a key question about the plane.

The records indicate the plane flew the day before, March 7, from Beijing to Kuala
Lumpor. But it appears the plane may have been out of service for an extended
period of time prior to its flight on March 7.

“Either they were in a severe economic crunch or it was down for maintenance,
because they try to keep those things in the air constantly,” says Oliver “Buck”
Revell, former Deputy Director for Operations for the FBI. Revell is also a
licensed pilot and flight instructor.

According to flight log documentation, the plane was possibly out of service for
more than a month before its March 7 flight.

Aviation experts say while a 777 aircraft is in flight, information is collected
about the performance of the plane including any concerns. When it lands those
concerns are addressed — quickly.

“You have a real community of interest that is swarming over that airplane because
of the quick turn around a lot of times,” says Billy Vincent, former Federal
Aviation Administrator.

Vincent says quickly cleaning and maintaining planes and getting them airborne
again is important to airlines’ revenue streams, but security is supremely
important.

“Every method is taken to make sure that there is no unauthorized foreign item
left in the passenger cabin or the cargo bay or the avionics bay or anything else
on that airplane.”

But it’s the need for speed in airplane turn-around that has raised concerns among
some investigators that perhaps something was overlooked in the clean-up or
maintenance process.

Without debris to probe, Revell says investigators will have to rely on the basics
to figure out what happened.

“Were there any threats, had there been any indications that there would be any
problems, you want to look at the passenger manifests to see if there were any
individuals on there that had significant problems with the airline or association
with any known terrorist group or criminal cartel,” are the main questions, says
Revell.

But in this case, he says the most important aspect is “to look at the aircraft
maintenance record itself.”

Follow @JJGreenWTOP and @WTOP on Twitter and WTOP on Facebook.”
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WASHINGTON — The difficult search for answers about the disappearance of
Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 is compounded by the inability to find either the
plane intact or the wreckage.

Malaysian officials said in an emotional press
conference they believe the plane crashed into the Indian Ocean.

As authorities try to figure out where the wreckage is and why it crashed,
manufacturer Boeing has all but ruled out a cyber-attack on the plane.

“We won’t engage in speculation regarding this event,” said Boeing spokeswoman
Gayla L. Keller in a statement to WTOP on Monday, March 24.

“We are confident in the robust protection of all flight critical systems and
inability for a hacker to gain access by either external or internal means on the
777 and all Boeing airplanes.”

WTOP reported on March 14 that Boeing was concerned about the possibility the
plane’s systems could be hacked and previously contacted the Federal Aviation
Administration.

On Aug. 21, 2012, Boeing applied for permission to change the equipment to be
installed as part of an on-board 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.”

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.”

In November 2013, special conditions were approved allowing Boeing to make changes
on the 777 planes.

It’s not clear whether all security upgrades to planes are complete.
As investigators dig into what happened to the plane, a check of publicly
available flight records for the missing aircraft identified as MSN 28420 – 9M-
MRO, raise a key question about the plane.

The records indicate the plane flew the day before, March 7, from Beijing to Kuala
Lumpor. But it appears the plane may have been out of service for an extended
period of time prior to its flight on March 7.

“Either they were in a severe economic crunch or it was down for maintenance,
because they try to keep those things in the air constantly,” says Oliver “Buck”
Revell, former Deputy Director for Operations for the FBI. Revell is also a
licensed pilot and flight instructor.

According to flight log documentation, the plane was possibly out of service for
more than a month before its March 7 flight.

Aviation experts say while a 777 aircraft is in flight, information is collected
about the performance of the plane including any concerns. When it lands those
concerns are addressed — quickly.

“You have a real community of interest that is swarming over that airplane because
of the quick turn around a lot of times,” says Billy Vincent, former Federal
Aviation Administrator.

Vincent says quickly cleaning and maintaining planes and getting them airborne
again is important to airlines’ revenue streams, but security is supremely
important.

“Every method is taken to make sure that there is no unauthorized foreign item
left in the passenger cabin or the cargo bay or the avionics bay or anything else
on that airplane.”

But it’s the need for speed in airplane turn-around that has raised concerns among
some investigators that perhaps something was overlooked in the clean-up or
maintenance process.

Without debris to probe, Revell says investigators will have to rely on the basics
to figure out what happened.

“Were there any threats, had there been any indications that there would be any
problems, you want to look at the passenger manifests to see if there were any
individuals on there that had significant problems with the airline or association
with any known terrorist group or criminal cartel,” are the main questions, says
Revell.

But in this case, he says the most important aspect is “to look at the aircraft
maintenance record itself.”

Follow @JJGreenWTOP and @WTOP on Twitter and WTOP on Facebook.

© 2014 WTOP. All Rights Reserved.


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