Hackers and cyber-terrorists present an ever-evolving threat to airlines, with experts constantly testing for new vulnerabilities — including the fear that drones could be used to throw a plane off course.
Most agree hacking a plane would be a near-impossible feat, but some professional hackers have claimed airline computer systems are riddled with weaknesses that could allow someone to break in, perhaps even through the in-flight entertainment system.
While public concerns tend to focus on the terrorist risk, companies face a much more immediate and frequent threat from hackers trying to steal their commercial secrets.Hacks can cost tens of millions of dollars to repair and could be used to extort money by planting threats.
As aviation goes increasingly digital, threats have adapted.
“A lot of data is now automatically uploaded to planes so they can remove the risk of human error as much as possible,” said a pilot for a major airline, who was not allowed to give his name.
Many airlines now issue their pilots and cabin crew with iPads because they weigh less than piles of charts and passenger logs.