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An American admits hijacking plane mid-air: FBI

A security researcher told the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) he had hacked an airplane’s engine with his laptop.
A security researcher told the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) he had hacked an airplane’s engine with his laptop.

Chris Roberts admitted to hijacking a plane mid-flight in Feburary  taking control of its entertainment system resulting in the aircraft to fly sideways

According to a search warrant application, which was written by Mark Hurley, a FBI agent, in April, posted on Wired on Friday, Roberts said that he controlled one of the airplane engines to climb resulting in a lateral or sideways movement of the plane during one of these flights.

He was questioned last month when he was escorted off a United Airlines flight, there he had posted a tweet, which was in a humor, he gave hint in the tweet that he could control the aircraft's crew alert system and could passenger oxygen masks to drop.

After that, his computers were also seized by the FBI.

According to the application, Roberts said in a interview in February and March, he had hacked in-flight entertainment systems on 15 to 20 flights between 2011 and 2014. Every time he had pried open the cover of the electronics box which was located under passenger seats and he would connect his computer to the system with an ethernet cable. He had checked the system for security flaws and monitored communications from the cockpit.

 “We found that the electronics box under the seat in front of Roberts' showed signs of tampering,” Hurley wrote in the document.

On the same day, Roberts was removed from the flight.

Along with that the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report warning that hackers could bring down a plane by using onboard Wi-Fi systems.

In a report published on Sydney Morning Herald, Ken Westin, a security analyst from Tripwire said, 

“Connecting your laptop to an in-flight media system or anything on an actual plane with people on it is not the way to conduct security research."


"To also tweet a 'joke' about hacking a plane using specific technical details is also incredibly irresponsible I think," he added.
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