Business & GA, Commercial, Embedded Avionics

Garmin Addresses ‘Avionics and Hackers’

By Woodrow Bellamy III  | June 20, 2014
Send Feedback

[Avionics Today June 20, 2014] Garmin, one of the biggest avionics manufacturers based in the United States, is looking to address what the company sees as "misinformation" recently presented in the media and a prominent 2013 aviation conference regarding the ability of terrorists and "corporate espionage agents" to hack into modern avionics systems. 

Garmin's G5000 flight deck. Photo, courtesy of Garmin.

The company published a blog post entitled "Avionics and Hackers: An Industry Perspective," that discusses the many layers of security protocols required by civil aviation authorities on next generation avionics systems. One of the leading causes of misinformation about hacking into these systems, according to Garmin, is the result of a presentation on hacking a Flight Management System by German security consultant Hugo Teso at the 2013 "Hack in the Box" security conference in Amsterdam. 
Teso presented a demonstration that showed his ability to use a smartphone application called PlaneSploit to hack into the FMS of a Boeing aircraft and manipulate its steering while the plane was in autopilot mode. Garmin's new blog post points to several deficiencies in the demonstration. 
"The entire presentation was questionable since the 'flight deck takeover' did not use certified avionics hardware and software, but instead used PC simulators and avionics equipment with unknown pedigree and uncertain airworthiness approval," Garmin said. 
According to Garmin, the false report contributed to an international certification authority requiring safety-enhancing data link weather and ADS-B In traffic features to be disabled on any aircraft being certified with their avionics systems. 

"Ultimately, these safety-enhancing features were re-enabled, but only after some aircraft were delivered with these features disabled and only after Garmin and the aircraft manufacturer had to expend significant resources educating the certification authority involved. That time and money could have been better devoted to developing and deploying new safety-enhancing features and functions in our avionics," Garmin said.  

Receive the latest avionics news right to your inbox