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Faa's Air-Traffic Networks Breached By Hackers

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The U.S. Transportation Department's inspector general released a report on May 6 that said the U.S.'s civilian air-traffic computer networks had been breached a number of times during the last several years. One of those breaches, which occurred in 2006, forced the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to shut down part of its traffic control systems in Alaska. The report said the shut down occurred after the attack spread from administration networks to air-traffic control systems, although FAA spokesperson Laura Brown maintains the breach only affected the local administrative system that provides flight and weather information to pilots.

The report also noted that hackers were able to take over FAA computers in 2008 and use the agency's networks to steal the passwords of network administrators in Oklahoma. This in turn allowed the hackers to install malicious code and steal 40,000 FAA passwords and other information used to control the administrative network, the report found. The report concluded that the FAA is not well equipped to detect breaches into its computer systems, and that when it does discover intrusions it does not address them quickly enough.

Brown said the FAA is currently working on addressing a number of weaknesses in its computer systems, including scanning software for possible vulnerabilities.

"The threat of hackers interfering with our air-traffic control systems is not just theoretical; it has already happened," says Rep. Tom Petri (R-Wisc.), one of the lawmakers who requested the report. "We must regard the strengthening of our air-traffic control security as an urgent matter."

From The Wall Street Journal
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