OHIO – Just like our computers, aircraft systems are vulnerable and are not exempt from a cyber-attack.
Advancements in technologies are growing at an unprecedented speed and the Air Force has been able to become more innovative and agile using those new technologies. Yet at the same time the risks of being exposed to computer bugs or hacking is increasing and adversaries are becoming more inventive and clever in attacking those systems.

“Aircraft are not immune to being hacked and if they are, it can be detrimental,” said Dr. Raju Patel, Air Force Life Cycle Management Center’s (AFLCMC) technical advisor for embedded computer and software systems and authorizing official for aircraft systems assessing cybersecurity risks for Air Force aircraft.
Patel said most aircraft systems are now controlled by software. In the 1980s, approximately 25 percent of the aircraft’s capabilities were operated by software. Presently, 85 percent of aircraft capabilities are now being ran by software.

If hacked, some examples of possible cyber effects on aircraft systems can be anything from breakdowns in communication and navigation systems to the more critical systems such as collision avoidance and life support systems.

When Patel conducts risk assessments on aircraft systems, he assesses by judging the confidentiality, integrity and availability of the system. Patel said that confidentiality assures that the information is not being disclosed to unauthorized personnel. The integrity of the system is ensuring that the material is what was expected and has not been altered, and that availability insures the user timely and reliable access to data and information services.