The Economist of 4 November 2014 speaks of ‘cyberjacking’ – a phenomenon that refers to the equivalent of hijacking an aircraft with the use of cyber technology. This could happen from outside the aircraft or from the inside. The catalyst in this instance is the increasing popularity with passengers of internet connectivity on board for work, games, movies et al. The article also mentions that internet signals are routed through existing communications architecture, such as the Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS), or the Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B), which is an anti-collision system, which, both being information communications systems can, in theory be targets of cyber-attacks. In its later edition of 21 May 2015 the same journal highlighted that a hacker had identified a weakness with the in-flight entertainment (IFE) systems on Boeing 737-800, 737-900, 757-200 and Airbus A320 aircraft. He had demonstrated this fact by accessing the systems by plugging a laptop into one of the electronic boxes usually found under the seats either side of the aisle. Once connected, the hacker claims to have accessed other systems on the aircraft.
None of these claims have been validated by the scientific community nor have they been put into practice by terrorists or criminals against civil air transport. Nonetheless, this may be a sign of things to come, particularly when one considers that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s computers have been hacked in the past and that all computer systems of SONY were hacked in the recent past, allegedly by a foreign State sponsored hacking exercise. As this article discusses, there has been at least one confirmed cyber-attack on a computer system of a commercial airline. The International Civil Aviation Organization(ICAO) has been active in the field of prevention of cyber terrorism, which this article will elaborate on, with some constructive suggestions.Air and Space Law