Cybersecurity Expert: I Hacked Airplane’s Computer System

A cybersecurity expert told FBI agents that he hacked an airplane’s computer and took over control of the engines.

SYRACUSE, N.Y. – A cybeersecurity whiz claims that he hacked into an airplane’s computer and briefly took over control of the engines.

According to a search warrant filed in the federal court in Syracuse, N.Y., Chris Roberts, CTO and founder of One World Labs, informed FBI agents he connected his computer to the in-flight entertainment system. He then says he overwrote code to seize the thrust management system, NBC News reports.

The computer security expert told FBI agents during interviews in February and March that he was able to hack into in-flight entertainment systems by connecting a modified Ethernet cable to an electronics box under the seat in front of him.

Roberts said he did this at least 15 to 20 times between 2011 and 2014.

He also admitted to FBI agents that he successfully commanded the system to issue the “CLB” or climb command, causing one of the airplane engines to climb resulting in a sideways movement of the plane during the flight.

FBI agents apprehended a supply of electronics equipment from Roberts after he tweeted about hacking the computers on a United Airlines flight, according to court papers.

The warrant application notes that the electronics box under the seat in front of Roberts had been tampered with, and asks permission to perform a forensic search on the seized electronics equipment.

Roberts, who says he revealed the information in an effort to get the vulnerabilities fixed, has been banned from all United Airlines flights.

Representatives for the airline say they are confident their systems are secure.

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