How to Kill an F-15 Eagle in Battle: Hackers?

How to Kill an F-15 Eagle in Battle: Hackers?

David Axe

Security,

Bad news: 
A team of hackers in early August 2019 gained access to an F-15 fighter in an eye-opening U.S. military test. The successful hack underscores U.S. forces’ vulnerability to electronic intrusion.

A team of hackers in early August 2019 gained access to an F-15 fighter in an eye-opening U.S. military test. The successful hack underscores U.S. forces’ vulnerability to electronic intrusion.

“It was the first time outside researchers were allowed physical access to the critical F-15 system to search for weaknesses,” reporter Joseph Marks wrote for The Washington Post.

From the article:

And after two long days, the seven hackers found a mother lode of vulnerabilities that — if exploited in real life — could have completely shut down the Trusted Aircraft Information Download Station, which collects reams of data from video cameras and sensors while the jet is in flight.

They even found bugs that the Air Force had tried but failed to fix after the same group of hackers performed similar tests in November [2018] without actually touching the device. …

The hackers lobbed a variety of attacks — including injecting the system with malware and even going at it with pliers and screwdrivers. When I saw it, the metal box that’s usually secure on the aircraft had wires hanging out the front.

The hackers revealed their success to Will Roper, the Air Force’s top weapons-buyer, Marks wrote. “They were able to get back in through the back doors they already knew were open,” Roper said.

Roper is “trying to turn that around,” Marks explained. The acquisitions chief is “hopeful about the results of the U.S. government’s newfound openness to ethical hackers.”

More from the post story: 

This is a drastic change from previous years, when the military would not allow hackers to try to search for vulnerabilities in extremely sensitive equipment, let alone take a literal whack at it.

But the Air Force is convinced that unless it allows America’s best hackers to search out all the digital vulnerabilities in its planes and weapons systems, then the best hackers from adversaries such as Russia, Iran and North Korea will find and exploit those vulnerabilities first.

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