Cyber-Hijacking: Mobile Phone or USB Stick May Have “Cyber-Hijacked” Missing Malaysian Airlines Flight
A passenger that looks like your ordinary male IT executive ? long hair, glasses, mustache and beard – on board Flight ADL12, is seated in his chair in Business Class, sipping a tall glass of red wine. Minutes after the seatbelt sign goes off, he pulls out his iPhone 7, opens an app aptly called CYBERJACK and punches in a 4 digit code. Suddenly, the plane rocks about as if the pilot lost control. The aircraft stabilizes as the passenger controls the plane’s flight controls and directions using the touch screen display on his mobile device.
This may seem to be like a fictional scene from a thriller movie a few years from now, but the reality of an airline passenger ?cyber-hijacking? a plane using his mobile, could be a reality today, if we are to believe certain terrorism experts.
According to a British expert on anti-terrorism, Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 could have been a casualty of a ?cyber-hijack?. If this is the case, it will be the world’s first recorded incident of the sort.
The expert, Dr. Sally Leivesley, who used to be a scientific adviser of the British Home Office, said that cyber-hijacking is the manner of taking control of an airplane using a mobile device or a USB (Universal Serial Bus) stick.
She explained that with the use of a mobile phone or a USB stick, a passenger can hack the plane’s system and alter the aircraft’s direction, altitude and speed. This is done by sending radio signals to the airplane’s flight management control system.
Using the signals as a remote control mechanism, the hacker can also force the plane to land or to crash.
This possibility was raised by security experts because of the continuing puzzle that is the Malaysian Flight disappearance. It has been more than a week since a Boeing 777 operated by Malaysia Airways was reported missing with 239 individuals aboard. Suspicions of terrorism have abounded not only because of the reported fake passports used by two passengers, but also because of the strange behavior of the aircraft’s flight path, and subsequent disappearance.
The fact that the plane is still missing despite a massive search effort by the global community adds to the speculation of terrorism as the cause.
Dr. Leivesley added that ?There appears to be an element of planning from someone with a very sophisticated systems engineering understanding…..This is a very early version of what I would call a smart plane, a fly-by-wire aircraft controlled by electronic signals……It is looking more and more likely that the control of some systems was taken over in a deceptive manner, either manually, so someone sitting in a seat overriding the autopilot, or via a remote device turning off or overwhelming the systems……A mobile phone could have been used to do so or a USB stick…….When the plane is air-side, you can insert a set of commands and codes that may initiate, on signal, a set of processes.?