• U.S. Issues Hacking Security Alert for Small Planes

    From Larry Dighera@21:1/5 to All on Wed Jul 31 05:31:05 2019

    U.S. Issues Hacking Security Alert for Small Planes
    By Associated Press on July 30, 2019

    The Department of Homeland Security issued a security alert <https://www.us-cert.gov/ics/alerts/ics-alert-19-211-01> Tuesday for
    small planes, warning that modern flight systems are vulnerable to
    hacking if someone manages to gain physical access to the aircraft.

    An alert from the DHS critical infrastructure computer emergency
    response team recommends that plane owners ensure they restrict
    unauthorized physical access to their aircraft until the industry
    develops safeguards to address the issue, which was discovered by a Boston-based cybersecurity company and reported to the federal

    Most airports have security in place to restrict unauthorized access
    and there is no evidence that anyone has exploited the vulnerability.
    But a DHS official told The Associated Press that the agency
    independently confirmed the security flaw with outside partners and a
    national research laboratory, and decided it was necessary to issue
    the warning.

    The cybersecurity firm, Rapid7 https://blog.rapid7.com/2019/07/30/new-research-investigating-and-reversing-avionics-can-bus-systems/>,
    found that an attacker could potentially disrupt electronic messages transmitted across a small plane's network, for example by attaching a
    small device to its wiring, that would affect aircraft systems.

    Engine readings, compass data, altitude and other readings "could all
    be manipulated to provide false measurements to the pilot," according
    to the DHS alert.

    The warning reflects the fact that aircraft systems are increasingly
    reliant on networked communications systems, much like modern cars.
    The auto industry has already taken steps to address similar concerns
    after researchers exposed vulnerabilities.

    The Rapid7 report focused only on small aircraft because their systems
    are easier for researchers to acquire. Large aircraft frequently use
    more complex systems and must meet additional security requirements.
    The DHS alert does not apply to older small planes with mechanical
    control systems.

    But Patrick Kiley, Rapid7's lead researcher on the issue, said an
    attacker could exploit the vulnerability with access to a plane or by
    bypassing airport security.

    "Someone with five minutes and a set of lock picks can gain access
    (or) there's easily access through the engine compartment," Kiley

    Jeffrey Troy, president of the Aviation Information Sharing and
    Analysis Center, an industry organization for cybersecurity
    information, said there is a need to improve the security in networked operating systems but emphasized that the hack depends on bypassing
    physical security controls mandated by law.

    With access, "you have hundreds of possibilities to disrupt any system
    or part of an aircraft," Troy said.

    The Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement that a
    scenario where someone has unrestricted physical access is unlikely,
    but the report is also "an important reminder to remain vigilant"
    about physical and cybersecurity aircraft procedures.

    Aviation cybersecurity has been an issue of growing concern around the

    In March, the U.S. Department of Transportation's inspector general
    found that the FAA had "not completed a comprehensive, strategy policy framework to identify and mitigate cybersecurity risks." The FAA
    agreed and said it would look to have a plan in place by the end of

    The UN's body for aviation proposed its first strategy for securing
    civil aviation from hackers that's expected to go before the General
    Assembly in September, said Pete Cooper, an ex-Royal Air Force fast
    jet pilot and cyber operations officer who advises the aviation

    The vulnerability disclosure report is the product of nearly two years
    of work by Rapid7. After their researchers assessed the flaw, the
    company alerted DHS. Tuesday's DHS alert recommends manufacturers
    review how they implement these open electronics systems known as "the
    CAN bus" to limit a hacker's ability to perform such an attack.

    The CAN bus functions like a small plane's central nervous system.
    Targeting it could allow an attacker to stealthily hijack a pilot's
    instrument readings or even take control of the plane, according to
    the Rapid7 report obtained by The AP.

    "CAN bus is completely insecure," said Chris King, a cybersecurity
    expert who has worked on vulnerability analysis of large-scale
    systems. "It was never designed to be in an adversarial environment,
    (so there's) no validation" that what the system is being told to do
    is coming from a legitimate source.

    Only a few years ago, most auto manufacturers used the open CAN bus
    system in their cars. But after researchers publicly demonstrated how
    they could be hacked, auto manufacturers added on layers of security,
    like putting critical functions on separate networks that are harder
    to access externally.

    The disclosure highlights issues in the automotive and aviation
    industries about whether a software vulnerability should be treated
    like a safety defect with its potential for costly manufacturer
    recalls and implied liability and what responsibility manufacturers
    should have in ensuring their products are hardened against such
    attacks. The vulnerability also highlights the reality that it's
    becoming increasingly difficult to separate cybersecurity from
    security overall.

    "A lot of aviation folks don't see the overlap between information
    security, cybersecurity, of an aircraft, and safety," said Beau Woods,
    a cyber safety innovation fellow with the Atlantic Council, a
    Washington think tank. "They see them as distinct things."

    The CAN bus networking scheme was developed in the 1980s and is
    extremely popular for use in boats, drones, spacecraft, planes and
    cars all areas where there's more noise interference and it's
    advantageous to have less wiring. It's actually increasingly used in
    airplanes today due to the ease and cost of implementation, Kiley

    Given that airplanes have a longer manufacturing cycle, "what we're
    trying to do is get out ahead of this."

    The report didn't name the vendors Rapid7 tested, but the company
    alerted them over a year ago, the report states. ----------------------------------------------------------------------


    ICS Alert (ICS-ALERT-19-211-01)
    CAN Bus Network Implementation in Avionics
    Original release date: July 30, 2019

    All information products included in http://ics-cert.us-cert.gov are
    provided "as is" for informational purposes only. The Department of
    Homeland Security (DHS) does not provide any warranties of any kind
    regarding any information contained within. DHS does not endorse any
    commercial product or service, referenced in this product or
    otherwise. Further dissemination of this product is governed by the
    Traffic Light Protocol (TLP) marking in the header. For more
    information about TLP, see http://www.us-cert.gov/tlp/.

    CISA is aware of a public report of insecure implementation of CAN bus
    networks affecting aircraft. According to this report, the CAN bus
    networks are exploitable when an attacker has unsupervised physical
    access to the aircraft. CISA is issuing this alert to provide early
    notice of the report.

    An attacker with physical access to the aircraft could attach a device
    to an avionics CAN bus that could be used to inject false data,
    resulting in incorrect readings in avionic equipment. The researchers
    have outlined that engine telemetry readings, compass and attitude
    data, altitude, airspeeds, and angle of attack could all be
    manipulated to provide false measurements to the pilot. The
    researchers have further outlined that a pilot relying on instrument
    readings would be unable to distinguish between false and legitimate
    readings, which could result in loss of control of the affected

    CISA recommends aircraft owners restrict access to planes to the best
    of their abilities. Manufacturers of aircraft should review
    implementation of CAN bus networks to compensate for the physical
    attack vector. The automotive industry has made advancements in
    implementing safeguards that hinder similar physical attacks to CAN
    bus systems. Safeguards such as CAN bus-specific filtering,
    whitelisting, and segregation should also be evaluated by aircraft manufacturers.

    CISA reminds organizations to perform proper impact analysis and risk assessment prior to deploying defensive measures.

    CISA also provides a section for control systems security recommended
    practices on the ICS webpage on us-cert.gov. Several recommended
    practices are available for reading and download, including Improving Industrial Control Systems Cybersecurity with Defense-in-Depth

    Additional mitigation guidance and recommended practices are publicly
    available on the ICS webpage on us-cert.gov in the Technical
    Information Paper, ICS-TIP-12-146-01B--Targeted Cyber Intrusion
    Detection and Mitigation Strategies.

    Rapid7 reported this finding to CISA.

    Contact Information
    For any questions related to this report, please contact the NCCIC at:

    Email: NCCICCUSTOMERSERVICE@hq.dhs.gov
    Toll Free: 1-888-282-0870

    For industrial control systems cybersecurity information: http://ics-cert.us-cert.gov
    or incident reporting: https://ics-cert.us-cert.gov/Report-Incident?

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