Hackers targeted the Polish Airline LOT, grounded 1,400 Passengers

Pierluigi Paganini June 22, 2015

A cyber attack against the ground computer systems of the Polish flagship carrier LOT grounded more than 1,400 passengers at Warsaw’s Okecie airport.

The Polish national airline, LOT, announced on Sunday that it has cancelled 10 flights due to a cyber attack against the airline’s ground computer systems at Warsaw’s Okecie airport.

“Today afternoon LOT encountered IT attack, that affected our ground operation systems. As a result we’re not able to create flight plans and outbound flights from Warsaw are not able to depart. We’d like to underline, that it has no influence on plane systems. Aircrafts, that are already airborne will continue their flights. Planes with flight plans already filed will return to Warsaw normally.” states the official statement from the Polish flagship carrier LOT.

The attack occurred at around 4:00 pm local time and was resolved by 9:00 pm.

“This is the first attack of its kind,” said the LOT spokesman Adrian Kubicki. “At no point was the safety of ongoing flights compromised, and flights destined for Warsaw were able to land safely. No other airports were affected” “We’re using state-of-the-art computer systems, so this could potentially be a threat to others in the industry”.

The ground computer systems are used by the carriers to manage the flight plans for the airline. According to the company, the cyber attack against LOT made impossible for the Polish Airline LOT the creation of flight plans and flights were not able to depart from the Airport of Warsaw.

The law enforcement and security agencies immediately started the investigation on the cyber attack.

It’s not a good period for the aviation industry, many experts are warning about possible hacking attacks on every component involved in the sector. Modern aircraft are sophisticated computing systems that are connected to the Internet and that could be targeted by hackers and cyber terrorists.

We have recently discussed on the possibility to take control of planes remotely or manipulate the vehicle exploiting on board systems like the passenger entertainment system. In May 2015, the computer security researcher Chris Roberts reported the FBI that he obtained the control of at least one commercial flight causing it to “climb”.

united airlines flight speaking of LOT systems hack

The International Civil Aviation Organization has remarked several times that cyber attacks represent a serious threat to safety in the skies inviting all the experts in the industry to carefully consider cyber security of the aircrafts and of the control systems.

Incident like the one occurred to the Polish Airline LOT should lead us to think seriously about the possible consequences of a cyber attack.

Pierluigi Paganini

(Security Affairs – plane hacking, Polish Airline LOT)

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