In-flight entertainment system hacks


In our last article over In-flight entertainment system security we discussed over functionalities that an In-flight entertainment system has and future technology that is being implemented in these system. We also discussed with ethical hacking course investigator Jorge Rios over security of these systems.
As we all know that these systems have really eased our journey in planes. However after the crash of Malaysian airlines and Air Asia airlines recently there have been security concerns of these systems that investigators are rising. As nobody is able to clearly figure out the reason behind these crashes, thus people have started thinking that it might be because of hack gone wrong. During our interview with information security training expert, Anita Thomas, she suggested that the risk of next generation In-flight entertainment system hack is high. Because the next generation system are connected so well that user can communicate on same channels as the planes.
The most common scenarios you will find are of script kiddies testing in planes. In these scenarios they test how can a system like this be crashed. It like playing with your old calculator and after a while it shows an out of bound error. Ethical hacking course teacher Jorge Rios says that if some script kiddie can crash the system, what an expert could do. Some of the scenarios tested by people are through applications and games in these systems; the most common scenario is to test the games for boundary value analysis. Boundary value analysis is testing at the boundaries between partitions. You have to create valid and invalid boundaries that system can accept & reject as input.
In your in-flight entertainment system, first you find any game that allows you to input values etc. In this field you can try with random numbers to figure out the boundaries. During the information security training, the first step is; how to break the system and it is similar to this scenario. For example try the number 10 into that field, it might accept it or not. If it doesn’t accepts it means it can’t accept 2 digits number or more so your valid boundary must be 1 digit number. You might have to make assumption of digits between 0 and 9. You can start with number 5 and assuming you are lucky and it’s a boundary value. Means that input field will accept numbers up to 4. A classic programming mistake is to be off by 1 when coding constraints. For example, the programmer may have intended to code the statements:

0 <X< 5
And what actually got coded was 0 <X<= 5
You will now have the software behave as you expected at the illegal value 5. After finding this hit the + button which will increment the value to 6! Again, it can be a implementation problem, the increment constrain probably would say something like "if value = 4 do not increment." In this case, the value will not be 4 but 5 so it will be incremented it to 6. You can then continue to increment the field value by pressing the + button until you get to 127. Great things can happen when you add 1 to this value, namely that 127 + 1 = -128. As per our ethical hacking course expert at 127+1 the in-flight entertainment system will crash, either it will go black or reboot. Thus in this way you can do script kiddy like test and check how stable is the system.
In our next article we will cover more of these kinds of hacks and discuss more about satellite communication security. Keep following us.

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