Computer hacker Chris Roberts, who once admitted to hacking into NASA’s systems “because he was bored”, revealed to Daily Star Online how the hack would have been easy to do.
Chris explained that the two main manufacturers of in-flight entertainment systems used on the Boeing 777 at the time were Panasonic and Thales.
He added that the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) regularly released a number of diagrams and reports which could have been used by a budding hacker.
The IFE is used by millions of fliers every day to watch films, listen to music and otherwise distract themselves from the flight.
Chris said: “When something goes wrong the FAA puts out some amazing reports, those contain all sorts of technical detail that you’ll use for analysis and an understanding of how, what and where the attack surfaces to take over a plane are.
He went on: “The wiring diagram for the in-flight entertainment seat network cable is among them.
“This comes in very handy if you want or happen to need to make a cable to interface with the IFE box under the seat or elsewhere.”
Chris explained: “Back in 2014, breaching the IFE was a fairly simple task.
“The upside of having a bunch of legislation and rules around electronics in a plane is that people don’t want to patch and upgrade the system often.
“Back in 2014, breaching the in-flight entertainment system was a fairly simple task”
Chris Roberts, computer hacker
“There would have been too much red tape, so the various systems we researched were vulnerable to numerous attack vectors.”
Once a potential hacker had taken control of the plane’s entertainment system, Chris then laid out how they would move to taking over the flight controls.
Chris went on: “From the IFE if you map out the hacking process, the next logical stopping point is the Cabin Control System (CCS).
“The long and the short of it is that the CCS has the ability – in the systems we researched – to influence the IFE to pause, stop and start and follow other commands.
“So, where there is a network we pivot and follow it.”
Through the starting point in the in-flight entertainment system, Chris explained that his team was able to hack into a number of other key plane control systems.
These included: Secondary Engine Indicators, the TMC (Thrust Management Computer), EEC’s (Electronic Engine Controller Interface) for some of the 787 systems, Engine Start and Ignition Systems, Engine Fuel Systems and Inertia Reference Systems.
Chris previously told Daily Star Online that MH370 could have been hacked from the ground.
All 239 passengers and crew on board Malaysia Airlines flight 370 are presumed dead after the plane went missing in March 2014.
Air traffic controllers lost contact with the aircraft 38 minutes after take-off from the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur.
It comes after Daily Star Online spoke to one expert who claimed MH370 was flown to the ground by a “talented” hijacker.
Aviation researcher Jeff Wise believes the plane was flown north to Kazakhstan, but after the hijacker hoodwinked experts in to thinking they’d flown south.