A prominent computer security expert was barred from boarding one United flight, removed from another, and detained by the FBI—all apparently over a tweet pointing out how easy United’s security system would be to hack.
Find myself on a 737/800, lets see Box-IFE-ICE-SATCOM, ? Shall we start playing with EICAS messages? "PASS OXYGEN ON" Anyone ? :)— Chris Roberts (@Sidragon1) April 15, 2015
That same day he was reportedly pulled off a United flight and questioned by the FBI for more than four hours. His lawyers also claim the FBI seized his laptop, iPad, hard drives and other equipment without a warrant.
“I don’t know what the logic is. They’re probably pissed that FOX picked up on it and CNN picked up on it and it’s gotten a lot more media attention,” Roberts tells securityledger.com. “This has been a known issue for 4 or 5 years where a bunch of us has stood up and pounded our chest and said this is an issue…Are they pissed because there are credible threats and we’re giving those credible threats more intelligence, or because we’re standing up and saying ‘there’s a problem,’ or because they can’t get anywhere with this?”
But either way, United isn’t having it: Roberts was reportedly removed from a second flight while en route to a security conference in California. An airline spokesperson tells the AP that the airline feels “confident” about its system but still considers Roberts a threat.
“Given Mr. Roberts’ claims regarding manipulating aircraft systems, we’ve decided it’s in the best interest of our customers and crew members that he not be allowed to fly United,” airline spokesman Rahsaan Johnson told The Associated Press. “However, we are confident our flight control systems could not be accessed through techniques he described.”
Johnson did not respond to a follow-up question Sunday why Roberts would still be a threat if he couldn’t, in fact, compromise United’s control systems.
[image via AP]