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Protecting Cities from Hijacked Planes

michael posted about 11 years ago | from the father-knows-best dept.

Technology 971

Kong99 writes "A group at UC-Berkeley has proposed Soft Walls to stop hijacked planes from entering a protected airspace. Interesting read especially since they claim it is 'hack' proof."

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38ab338448cdaab98f54e9fa16264e82 (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6359653)


It's because we treat niggers like humans... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6359722)

... that they want to kill us en masse. If we left them to rot in their jigaboo jungles, they'd have wiped themselves out YEARS ago. Darwinism at its finest.

Remember this simple rhyme:

The White Man MAKES
The nigger BREAKS


egg troll (515396) | about 11 years ago | (#6359660)

I bet that would work pretty well, too.

It wo\uldn't work...... (-1, Flamebait)

Nagatzhul (158676) | about 11 years ago | (#6359798)

All you are showing is a bit of ignorance about their culture and assuming that they share your values. They don't. Their value system encourages them to treat us (Western countries) like trash. They have an obligation, according to that value system, to kill us off if they can. It as much a part of their social background as the Christian Golden Rule is to ours. Try visiting a Muslim country some time. It is a real eye opener.

hack' proof (0, Redundant) (637314) | about 11 years ago | (#6359663)

That's what they all say..

Repeat after me! (2)

Surak (18578) | about 11 years ago | (#6359756)

There is NO such thing as a hack proof system.
There is NO such thing as a hack proof system.
There is NO such thing as a ...

Okay, the one possible exception is when the BRS is turned to OFF. It doesn't exist now and it never will. In fact, I would say that the fact that it is NOT ground-based makes it even MORE vulnerable. After all, get the plane in the sky, then commence with the hacking, right?

Re:hack' proof (2, Funny)

jobugeek (466084) | about 11 years ago | (#6359782)

They must use Oracle.

yes, I read the article


I_TOTALLY_FART_POO (686368) | about 11 years ago | (#6359665)

fuckerz nigga whaaaaat fart ehehehee gasf djf

How close can they get? (4, Insightful)

CliffSpradlin (243679) | about 11 years ago | (#6359668)

This is a really cool idea. I'm all for it.

Just one concern...what's to stop the hijackers from busting the autopilot controls in the cockpit? I would think that it would be sensitive to bullets or repeated bashing. It's not like you need an autopilot when you're right next to a city, just point the nose and go. What kind of range should these no fly zones have, and what should be protocol for when an airport is in/next to a city?

Re:How close can they get? (1)

HowlinMad (220943) | about 11 years ago | (#6359701)

what should be protocol for when an airport is in/next to a city?

Well this would apply to planes that are not supposed to be in the "soft wall". Basically if you do not have an approved flight plan to be in the area, you can;t come in without being approved.

Re:How close can they get? (1)

CliffSpradlin (243679) | about 11 years ago | (#6359758)

Who controls approval? If that's the way it will work, what's to stop me from watching another approval transaction or two and copying it? shared secrets only work so long as one of the sharers is not at gunpoint.

Re:How close can they get? (5, Funny)

tanguyr (468371) | about 11 years ago | (#6359794)

No no no, this technology would only impose soft wall restrictions on planes flown by terrorists with the intention of crashing into buildings. It would even feature a special subconscious scanning algorythm that would know if the pilot was a terrorist, even if he didn't know it himself!

i mean, if you're going to live in a fantasy world, it might as well be a good one, no? /t

Re:How close can they get? (1)

br0ck (237309) | about 11 years ago | (#6359726)

Couldn't an attacker just change the restricted GPS coordinates in the avionics? Or even easier, they could they simply jam the GPS signal?

Re:How close can they get? (5, Insightful)

letxa2000 (215841) | about 11 years ago | (#6359772)

RTFA. If GPS is jammed it would go to other navigation aids (VOR, etc.).

But changing the restricted GPS coordinates in the avionics is what I was thinking. You need to have a way to get that information into the avionics in the first place, so that's the weak link. Presumably you'd have some kind of wirefull connection that could only be accessed from the outside of the plane. But that'd just mean someone on the ground would have to be in on the plan, which isn't farfeteched.

Also, this is a safety-of-flight issue. If you are on the edge of restricted space and you see a plane coming right at you you have to take evasive maneuvers. If this system prevented a pilot from taking appropriate evasive action that'd be a bad thing.

Re:How close can they get? (1)

CliffSpradlin (243679) | about 11 years ago | (#6359793)

The article says that the system includes provisions for if the GPS is jammed, such as using airport nav beacons. I would think that the gps coordinates would be firmware, and not user-configurable.

Re:How close can they get? (1)

Delphiki (646425) | about 11 years ago | (#6359752)

I would imagine (though I don't actually know this of course) that in a modern plane where the navigation system is run all electronically, that there would be part of it which wasn't in the cockpit and accessible to this sort of attack, in fact I would imagine the smart thing to do would be to put the actual computer somewhere else with just a terminal accessible, meaning the computer would stay online and steer away fromt he no fly zone all the same. Perhaps this could be used with a control from the ground kind of system in as a backup? Of course no system is infallible, but this sounds like a fairly tough system to get around.

Emp (1)

autopr0n (534291) | about 11 years ago | (#6359816)

An EMP would disable all electronics, and radios, transponders, etc, but the hydraulic controls for the rudder/etc would still function.

Re:How close can they get? (3, Informative)

robslimo (587196) | about 11 years ago | (#6359761)

what's to stop the hijackers from busting the autopilot controls

Because I'm guessing they're talking about a layer which is actually integrated into the fly-by-wire controls. And you don't want to smash those, eh? Then neither a pilot nor an auto-pilot could control the danged thing.

but can you protect (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6359672)

/. from my 3rd post?

or, due to /. system delays, possibly 4th or 5th... or later... I guess I fail it, huh?

Sounds dangerous to me (5, Insightful)

Phoenix-kun (458418) | about 11 years ago | (#6359673)

Even if this process is hack-proof (yet to be seen), anything that forcibly takes control away from the pilot is going to be dangerous. What if the only way to avoid a mid-air collision is to bank into one of these "soft walls"?

Re:Sounds dangerous to me (5, Insightful)

florin (2243) | about 11 years ago | (#6359802)

Yeah, I agree. The only way for it to discourage terrorist activity would be if there was absolutely no way to override it. And if there were no way to override it it is possible to imagine other situations where this system might actually endanger lives.

Suppose for instance that an aircraft happens to suffer from a problem like multiple engine failure and the only way to avoid crashing into a densely populated urban area would be to trespass an area of protected airspace. Or the only possible landing opportunity might be an abandoned or smaller private runway or even a stretch of highway which would happen to fall under or near the shield, and this system would prevent the aircraft from maintaining an optimal course. Imagine the public outcry if there were ever a major accident due to the robot taking over. I guess the benefits of this system might outweigh such uncommon occurrences but I can imagine pilots are terrified of relinquishing such an amount of control.

Re:Sounds dangerous to me (1)

FroMan (111520) | about 11 years ago | (#6359818)

Or the plane could be low on fuel and the air port is on the other side of town. Or damage is done to the plane in some fashion and it wants to land on a highway.

The odds of these things are low, but it seems to me that on the plane there must be a way to get complete control over the plane. Once there is, there is a way to "hack" the system.

Sure, it raises the barrier of entry, but I would not think it could completely deter someone who plans on dying in the attempt anyways.

Personally I think sky marshals seems to be the best way to deal with things right now. Perhaps two on every flight or something, incase one is rogue.

Re:Sounds dangerous to me (2, Interesting)

arth1 (260657) | about 11 years ago | (#6359840)

Obviously, there's going to be exceptions, like military planes, ambulance helicopters, construction helicopters, police, Air Force 1, and the press.

So -- what's to stop people from using the excepted planes? Or planes originating in a country where installment of such a system isn't required?

Hack proof doesn't mean can't be *circumvented*
And anything larger than an atomic set of instructions is hackable.


SoftWalls (0, Insightful)

My name isn't Tim (684860) | about 11 years ago | (#6359674)

How long until someone creates a "softwall" around LAX :)

Don't make the claim (5, Insightful)

Graspee_Leemoor (302316) | about 11 years ago | (#6359677)

Never claim anything is hack-proof if you don't want to get hacked.

Especially do not claim that safety-critical systems are hack-proof, since even people who wouldn't normally try to hack them will try.

It's like security through obscurity- in this case more like security through non-boasting. The same thing applies- it doesn't really make you more secure, but it stops a lot of people from trying.


Re:Don't make the claim (5, Funny)

Creepy Crawler (680178) | about 11 years ago | (#6359746)

That's the BEST way to find bugs. Simply promise the world that it's HACK PROOF. When there's some published loophole, they fix it. Then comes round 2 of "This versions' HACK PROOF".

How else do you encourage hackers to take their skills on something normal debuggers wont find? You make it a challensge and openly state it's the best secure.

Re:Don't make the claim (1)

PhilHibbs (4537) | about 11 years ago | (#6359754)

Maybe they want the right kind of people to find the flaws, so it can be fixed.

Re:Don't make the claim (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6359780)

a) Never claim anything is hack-proof
b) if you don't want to get hacked.

I think b is unnecessary here. People who hack will do it no matter what you say. b just means the reporter will be a little more snide when he writes the story afterwards.

There's no practical future in this project (4, Insightful)

Raindance (680694) | about 11 years ago | (#6359682)

The twin tower attack was a one-time thing; neither it nor anything like it will ever work again, especially after all the media attention and tactical commentary the attack received.

This is a solution to a problem which will never come up again in anything near the form it did. It's interesting to think about and expand our engineering knowhow with but it's worthless as a Real Solution to a Real Problem.

Re:There's no practical future in this project (2, Insightful)

1337_h4x0r (643377) | about 11 years ago | (#6359727)

I disagree - the only reason it may be a one-time thing is because people are being vigilant in their defenses and security regarding this. I'm sure another 20 guys wouldn't mind suiciding into some more buildings if they could. This makes it so that they can't. I like it.

Re:There's no practical future in this project (1)

Raindance (680694) | about 11 years ago | (#6359809)

I respect your disagreement- security is a process, not a product, et cetera. However, it will be harder to pull a twin tower-esque attack off in the future, and there are so many other ways to cause harm that it's simply a bad idea for terrorists to try it again. In my opinion, anyway.

Re:There's no practical future in this project (1)

Ophidian P. Jones (466787) | about 11 years ago | (#6359827)

I disagree - the only reason it may be a one-time thing is because people are being vigilant in their defenses and security regarding this.

You're forgetting something.

This time, the passengers all know they are doomed if a group of suicide attackers takes control of the plane. If they're going to die anyway, why not try to wrestle control back from the hijackers? They can become heroes, or die trying.

Re:There's no practical future in this project (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6359732)

Don't be so sure. Thanks to fast food, strobe-light anime, and ADD, we haven't a prayer of remembering what left us vulnerable to attack.

I don't know which is more foolish... (2, Insightful)

beavis88 (25983) | about 11 years ago | (#6359762)

...claiming something is "hack-proof", or claiming that something like the 9/11 attacks will never happen again.

The reality is that people are [still] regularly getting contraband through security checkpoints. Great, there are bars on the cockpit doors now, but I'm not willing to bet thousands of lives on that alone.

I personally doubt anyone will TRY this type of attack in the near future, but to claim it will never work again seems pretty bold.

Re:There's no practical future in this project (1)

Camel Pilot (78781) | about 11 years ago | (#6359797)

What makes you think it cannot happen again.

Sure the next time the passengers are not going to sit back and wait and chat on their cell phones but if the highjackers use overwelming force such as a toxic aerosol or shotgun than it can happen again. It is a low cost method to cause serious damage.

Since 9/11 there have been instances where people have walked on to a plane with a handgun in their carry on luggage.

Re:There's no practical future in this project (4, Insightful)

BWJones (18351) | about 11 years ago | (#6359811)

The twin tower attack was a one-time thing; neither it nor anything like it will ever work again, especially after all the media attention and tactical commentary the attack received.

Actually, there is nothing preventing a dedicated individual or group from doing just this thing. If one owns their own large aircraft, (lots and lots of individuals own large commercial type aircraft) there is nothing to prevent crazed people from doing just this sort of thing on innumerable targets. The problem with terrorism is that it is almost impossible to prevent all possible events without a complete lockdown on society. The best possible solution is to prevent folks from feeling disenfranchised, uneducated and angry.

Re:There's no practical future in this project (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6359815)

Raindance is right you know. Nobody will fly planes into the twin towers ever again.

Re:There's no practical future in this project (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6359825)

"The twin tower attack was a one-time thing; neither it nor anything like it will ever work again, especially after all the media attention and tactical commentary the attack received."

In which way will stories in the newspaper/on tv prevent a plane, crashing into a building at 300 mph, from damaging it?

Re:There's no practical future in this project (1)

Jad LaFields (607990) | about 11 years ago | (#6359834)

I agree, I think terrorists will be coming up with new ideas instead of hashing over old ones.

Although I don't believe that the 9/11 attacks would be impossible to pull off again, there are still holes in security, its just that it would be difficult enough to do it that most intelligent terrorists (which are the scary ones, after all) will look else where.

Part of the "success" of the 9/11 attacks where that they were mostly unexpected and (by many) unimaginable. Remember the order that Bush made to shoot down the Pennsylvania field plane if it came within ?? miles of Washington, DC? I think there will be a much quicker response if something like this seems to be happening again.

Hack proof (2, Informative)

Gog (19835) | about 11 years ago | (#6359685)

Because the system is not dependant on ground input.

So I suppose there was nobody in those 4 planes...


Other planes::? (1)

fulldecent (598482) | about 11 years ago | (#6359690)

The sweetest part of this diagram: s99993893F1 is that there's no other planes in the diagram. And this plane is steering itself away from an imaginary line... something to think about

raised on the command line? huh! (1)

Graspee_Leemoor (302316) | about 11 years ago | (#6359728)

Your sig claims you were "raised on the command line", well, I was CONCEIVED on the command line!

Yes, that's right, I'm the only child ever to be born from the unholy union of two lamers cyber-sexing on IRC!


I can't fly... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6359691) insensitive clod!

Peace (4, Insightful)

noah_fense (593142) | about 11 years ago | (#6359692)

Peace in the middle east would also solve a good portion of the problem (from an engineering perspective) and it doesn't cost millions of dollars. AND it is immune to hacking.


Re:Peace (1)

TrollBridge (550878) | about 11 years ago | (#6359784)

"Peace in the middle east... doesn't cost millions of dollars."

While I agree with your basic premise, cultivating peace isn't going to be cheap, and it certainly won't happen overnight.

It's a great goal, but quite an undertaking, for sure!

Re:Peace (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6359789)

Yeah, good idea. Heck, why stop there? Let's have world peace too, while we're at it. Then we'd have basically no problems!

So, uh.. how do we do that, again?

Re:Peace (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6359792)

This is knee-jerk liberal blah-blah. I'm all for peace in the middle east, sure, sure. Peace in the middle east won't solve the fact that there are fundamental islamics that use their religion as the source and justification for what they do. They hate you, and because the anglo-saxon white-bread of the world is an infidel, according to their twisted read of their holy book.

And what happens (1)

Ice Tiger (10883) | about 11 years ago | (#6359695)

When you have the case where for whatever reason the only way a plane can recover from something is t bank into a softwall and because of this overide it can't and crashes.

Don't even mention bugs!

I'm sure pilots will love this (1)

yppiz (574466) | about 11 years ago | (#6359697)

It's an autopilot that cannot be disabled. I'm sure pilots will love giving complete trust to a system that could become corrupt in mid-flight, and that has authority over their decisions.

What happens when they need to make an emergency landing and there's a "soft wall" around the best landing spot?

--Pat /

Re:I'm sure pilots will love this (2, Funny)

webguru4god (537138) | about 11 years ago | (#6359763)

I can just see it now... "I can't let you do that Dave"

Re:I'm sure pilots will love this (1)

mhore (582354) | about 11 years ago | (#6359764)

It's an autopilot that cannot be disabled. I'm sure pilots will love giving complete trust to a system that could become corrupt in mid-flight, and that has authority over their decisions.

Well then maybe they'll just have to do it without loving it. As most here know, the space shuttle is controlled during re-entry completely by the computer, and while the autopilot can be disabled, it has never been (with the exception of Columbia). It has also never resulted in any space shuttle disasters. I think the idea that something software controlled is automatically evil is ridiculous. There just has to be control over the quality of the software (i.e. developed in an environment similar to that of the shuttle's).


Re:I'm sure pilots will love this (1)

Arimus (198136) | about 11 years ago | (#6359842)

Okay fair enough... and given planes like the later Airbuses are based on fly-by-wire the plane already has veto over pilot actions to a certain degree...

But most hijackers won't try hacking or interfering with normal auto-pilot or fbw as does not gain them anything. Hacking this system would and there would be bugger all the pilot could do about it. As another post says corrupt the database so an airport is defined as a no-fly zone... watch what happens then.

Re:I'm sure pilots will love this (1)

PhilHibbs (4537) | about 11 years ago | (#6359788)

What happens when they need to make an emergency landing and there's a "soft wall" around the best landing spot?
Not too hard - the 'plane should broadcast the soft-wall violation, and the local air traffic control can decide whether or not to adjust the parameters or not. That's where a hacking vulnerability could be found - social engineering.

Re:I'm sure pilots will love this (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6359822)

they are going to let them crash..... reason it out, you fucking moron, a plane could be approved to enter the softwall.... wow that was hard

Re:I'm sure pilots will love this (2, Interesting)

GMontag (42283) | about 11 years ago | (#6359841)

That sounds about as much fun as the ejection systems for tactical helicopters that were brainstormed back in the day (and keep getting revived for some stupid reason).

One was explosives around the rotor head that blew when you pulled the ejection handle, making the blades fly off before you blasted through the plane of the rotor disk. Not many folks really trusted the sequencing to work right when needed. I have heard of a syncronized system theory too, but I think the blades move too fast through the plane to give a seat time to clear the gap between them (unless you want to eject at MACH 69 and that does not do the body of the Aviator much good).

The other was a "through the floor" ejection. Great theory when you are not between 5' and 200' AGL. Unfortunately, tactical aircraft live between those altitudes a vast majority of the time, especially at the times they would be shot down.

wrong approach (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6359704)

Just make the plane itself out of spongy foam. Hell, then it doesn't matter what it hits - no harm done!

hackproof (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6359705)

Yeah *right*. Until someone rewires the controls to full manual.

Hack proof, my arse (1)

beavis88 (25983) | about 11 years ago | (#6359706)

They're proposing relying on a database/collection of no-fly zones -- is the implication here that these folks have found some way to make a given collection of information 100%, completely, totally, un-hackable? If so, I think they probably would have some other opportunites far more lucrative than in aircraft software...

Maybe you'd have to physically be aboard the plane to hack this system, but that in itself does not make it hack-proof.

Awesome Caption (4, Funny)

Nintendork (411169) | about 11 years ago | (#6359707)

From the Enforcing a No-Fly Zone picture:

Plane tries hard to fly into zone but soft walls keep it out

I'm sold!


Automobiles (1)

harm5way (616066) | about 11 years ago | (#6359708)

It would make a lot more sense if this technology was applied to grounded vehicles first. A la BladeRunner, etc.

Re:Automobiles (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6359828)

Yeah, I heard that the next terrorist attack on NYC was going to be a huge, coordinated series of crashes into specified targets by the city's cab drivers.

Great idea guys (1)

bperkins (12056) | about 11 years ago | (#6359710)

I'm flying along and suddenly I find myself in class 5 turbulence (it shouldn't happen but it does occasionally), so I try to get out, but suddenly the controls of my airplane go stiff and I find myself heading straight for a cell.

I don't think it sounds like a good idea to me. Allowing an automatic system to control the flight of an aircraft is just asking for trouble. The manual system, if designed and used properly could be much better.

Pilot control (5, Insightful)

Jad LaFields (607990) | about 11 years ago | (#6359711)

They propose modifying the avionics in aircraft so that the plane would fight any efforts by the pilot to fly into restricted airspace

Somehow this makes me feel a little less safe. I know that so much of flying is electronically controlled now anyway, with autopilot and more, but the there still is the ability for the pilot to actively fly the plane if it becomes necessary, without the plane "fighting" him or here.

What if the terrorist attack came in a different way, and the pilot had to make "evasive maneuvors" (sp!) or something?

How does this work? (1, Funny)

packethead (322873) | about 11 years ago | (#6359712)

Oh, I get it. Planes will have to use an evil bit if they plan on crashing into a skyscrapper or something.

Short Explanation (1)

Databass (254179) | about 11 years ago | (#6359713)

It's basically like those wireless dog "fences" that work with radio transmitters and shock collars. Except instead of shocking it engages the autopilot away from cities.

Umm.. (1)

Quasar1999 (520073) | about 11 years ago | (#6359717)

Didn't they try this in the dark ages? Huge rivers that flowed around a castle? Are we now doing the modern equivalent? Huge wall around a city?

[Sarcasm]My what an evolution! [/sarcasm]

Problem (1)

Lane.exe (672783) | about 11 years ago | (#6359729)

Terrorist #1: My friend, we seem to have encountered one of these fabled "soft walls."

Terrorist #2: Yes, I see we have. And it appears to be hack-proof. We cannot fly into it.

T1: Then let us simply turn off all electronics in the plane and coast into the target!

T2: You are infinitely smart! Now let us kill ourselves!


Dog Collars (1)

momerath2003 (606823) | about 11 years ago | (#6359731)

This reminds me of those dog collars that prevent one's pet from breaching a set boundary. Some emit painful shocks. Maybe they should consider making this "soft wall" zap the pilot if he violates a protected airspace... :-)

Hack-proof? Better be bug-free. (3, Insightful)

Kappelmeister (464986) | about 11 years ago | (#6359735)

So if a plane was flying with a no-fly-zone to he left, and the pilot started banking left to enter the zone, the avionics would counter by banking right. Lee's system, called "soft walls", would first gently resist the pilot, and then become increasingly forceful until it prevailed.

I can't say I like the idea of a computer having the final say over the direction of an airplane. Even if the intentions are good, pilots need to have the final say. Even Air Traffic Control can't force a maneuver on a pilot, if he or she thinks it is not safe.

In other words: I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't let you fly there.

Is this really a problem? (5, Funny)

sharkey (16670) | about 11 years ago | (#6359739)

I thought this was solved by NOT allowing curbside luggage check-in.

Hack proof indeed (1)

kabir (35200) | about 11 years ago | (#6359741)

If human history has taught us anything at all it should be perfectly obvious that nothing is "hack-proof". If there's any reason at all to find a way to accomplish something, get around some security, etc. then someone, somewhere will eventually figure it out. As a species it's one of our best tricks, and I really don't see us stopping anytime soon, and certainly not because it seems difficult or impossible now.

it has a database, so it's not hack-proof (4, Insightful)

prgrmr (568806) | about 11 years ago | (#6359743)

The system would include an on-board database of the GPS coordinates of the no-fly zones. If it sensed an attempt to jam GPS signals it would switch to other navigation aids such as airport beacons. Being independent of ground control means soft walls would be immune to hacking

Wishful thinking or willful ignorance?

The database would have to be updated prior to each flight, because the zones would have to be flexible. Points of entry are the main database at each airport, the central database at some government facility, and of course every single aircraft participating in this. Factor in the execptions you know the congresscritters cannot avoid putting into any sort of regulatory legislation, like exemptions from participation from non-commercial planes of a certain size or smaller, and you have a system so full of holes that it would hardly be worth the cost.

GPS hacking (1)

brucehappy (137202) | about 11 years ago | (#6359744)

This system is based on the assumption that the only things that would repond to the plane's on board GPS systems would be the GPS satellites in orbit...what would it take to make the GPS systems get their data from another plane broadcasting signals?

Is this completely impractical/impossible?

In Other News... (5, Funny)

sxe_p06 (576333) | about 11 years ago | (#6359745)

In other news, shipmakers have launched a new 'un-sinkable' ship today, and dubbed her 'The Titanic'...more to come...

Clipping (1)

Root Down (208740) | about 11 years ago | (#6359755)

I think they just need to locate the airplane spec and set autoclip=off.

Hack Proof? (1)

jeremyhu (164852) | about 11 years ago | (#6359766)

Uhm... so what's preventing someone from taking a baseball bat or some coffee to the system? If the autopilot system is out of comission, it simply can't work...

Even better... hard walls! (1)

momerath2003 (606823) | about 11 years ago | (#6359769)

Why settle for soft walls when you could encase a city in a 10-mile-high 20-foot-thick Plexiglass? It's worth a shot!

Hackproof? Bugproof? (4, Insightful)

ENOENT (25325) | about 11 years ago | (#6359770)

Hmm... Suppose that a plane were somehow to take off with a database of no-fly zones that listed all of the airports within a 1000-mile radius of its destination? Suppose that an updated database is released that accidentally puts O'Hare in a no-fly zone, and it isn't discovered until planes start colliding with each other over Chicago? And what can be done to save a plane that has a corrupted database once it takes off? From the story, ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! You're doomed, see ya later.

Nice system. I'll walk, thanks.

Heh (1)

autopr0n (534291) | about 11 years ago | (#6359771)

So, rather then take control of a an aircraft by sneaking weapons on board, fighting your way through the passengers (who will not sit idly by anymore) and breaking into a locked cabin, and finally giving up their own lives, They'll only have to hack into the system to redirect the plane into a building. And not just any plane, all of the planes.

Oh wait, it's 'hack proof'. Never mind then.

Silly. (4, Insightful)

MadFarmAnimalz (460972) | about 11 years ago | (#6359774)

Think like a terrorist for a second, will you.

So what if you can't slam a plane into a building? Your only limits are your creativity.

If the airplane's softwall control can't be hacked, then perhaps the terorrists can make planes crash into things by guiding them with `pirate soft walls'. Or just making planes crash. I don't think terorriats are lla that picky and choosy.

This is dumb.

When will American politics wake up and address the injustices that are the real root of the terrorist problem?

hackproof? Ha! Hacked! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6359776)

h3r3'5 th3 3133t 10g1n/p455w0rd:

understandbly the pilots are hostile (1) (664381) | about 11 years ago | (#6359777)

Would you want some one to be able to control your care by radio waves remotetly ?
It creates to mutch of a possibility for "terrorists" to <B>crack</B> into the onboard computer and fly you to were they want you to go.
The other id with an onboard gps and sectioned of areas , it would once again be controlled by a computer and to be quite frank at this point in time I would see it causing more crashes than saving lives because the pilots could not overide it. While some people may argue that alot of what pilots do now is auto pilot that is true , the most important reason to have a pilot there is so that they can override the computer when it fucks up because we all know that will happen.

Just a thought... (2, Interesting)

Jedi Holocron (225191) | about 11 years ago | (#6359778)

1. Hijack plane.
2. Fly towards "softwall".
3. Kill power on plane (method not discussed in the interest of Homeland Security).
4. Can the "softwall" stop an unpowered (hence uncontrolled) plane (now a ballistic object)?

How about we just get the Gungan's to build us city shields? They were pretty...

If this works, terrorists... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6359787)

...will just start hijacking something other than planes. We and our soft walls will look real stupid when terrorists start crashing into our buildings with Segways.

Will they add an Easter Egg too? (5, Funny)

ctucker (106081) | about 11 years ago | (#6359790)

Left, right, left, right, up, down, up, down, left pedal, right pedal, barrel roll left, hit the autopilot button, and BLAMMO, the names of the dev team are scrolling over the inflight movie.
Sounds like a recipe for air sickness bag sales!

Rubbish. (3, Insightful)

Mmm coffee (679570) | about 11 years ago | (#6359791)

Airport security has been stepped up to the point where you can't fart without getting a cavity search. The passengers nowadays will fight a hijacker, and everyone will be on high alert if a plane veers off course. I don't think that having someone crash a plane into a football stadium is going to happen because we're now expecting it. Just like with 9/11 if somebody's going to do a massive attack on civilians it's going to be in a way that nobody expects. All the security checkpoints and super high tech crap in the world won't stop someone who really wants to do damage at a target. They'll find your greatest weakness and strike it when you last expect it to happen. All this soft wall BS is a little something extra to make Joe Sixpack feel safe so he can continue drooling all over himself. (Mod me as a troll, but it really is true.)

Why would any terrorist... (1)

gillbates (106458) | about 11 years ago | (#6359800)

board a plane to hijack it when they can do so from the ground?

Yeah, it sounds interesting, but unless the plane carried an onboard 3d map of the entire world, this system could not be made completely secure. There would have to be some communication with the ground, and giving a ground controller the ability to influence a plane's movement is not a good thing.

Given the fact that it seems nearly impossible for commercial entities to release bug-free software, doesn't it worry anyone that we are beginning to place life-and-death decisions at the mercy of software? I mean, really, it used to be that killing someone involved a possessing a lethal weapon, but if this system is implemented, killing hundreds could be as simple as typing a few keystrokes...If anything, this system would make it easier not harder, for terrorists to kill people.

Shocking! (2, Funny)

kvigor (66615) | about 11 years ago | (#6359806)

"In general, pilots are openly hostile," he says. "Frankly it surprises me..."

The devil you say! Those darn whiny pilots and their "control" and their "not dying in screaming terror because their controls have beem r00t3d"!

If you want to protect yourself (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6359807)

you better change your leadership first. They stole the election and stacked every office from Supreme Court on up. They are the only ones responsible - and I mean directly. Everyone needs a 'Pearl Harbour' excuse to send boys to their death, this case is no different.

Don't discount it until you've read it.

No words can describe it.

Hack proof, eh? (1)

H0NGK0NGPH00EY (210370) | about 11 years ago | (#6359808)

I guess we'll find out on Sunday [] .

And airports near/in city centers? (1)

joostje (126457) | about 11 years ago | (#6359813)

How are they going to reach the airports that are so close to the city centers nowadays?

How far from the new your city center were those airports of new york again?

Protecting cities ... (-1)

polar red (215081) | about 11 years ago | (#6359819)

Maybe the best solution would be to not agressively invade other countries by mylitary or economic force. I think a friendly approach to developping nations is a very succesfull tactic. I wonder myself time and time again why so few people ask themselves why 9/11 happened ?

mountains... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6359820)

Isn't this similar to what they already have for altitude control? From what I hear they already can't fly at mountains, the plane takes over and goes up. Sounds like the same thing to me....


GPS coordinates (1)

gmenhorn (602062) | about 11 years ago | (#6359826)

The system would include an on-board database of the GPS coordinates of the no-fly zones I think maybe they meant the system would include an on-board database of geographic boundaries specified as either geo-polygons or geo-ellipses with latitude and longitude pairs. The GPS would be used to detect if the ship was near or inside these bounds. But hack proof? I'm not sure about that. But still, an excellent (and cheap) way to go. Great idea.

Obscurity (1)

jdh-22 (636684) | about 11 years ago | (#6359830)

How about lets do something so that planes don't get hijacked in the first place?

Worst. Idea. Ever. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6359831)

Hack proof? So how will they protect the onboard database of no-fly zones?

What happens when a system failure of some sort causes the plane to start randomly seeing no-fly zones in the middle of the planned flight course?

What happens when a major system failure leaves the system believing that everywhere is a no-fly zone?

Why, when it's already a major if not impossible task to diagnose a fatal crash, should we submit to having one more system fighting for control of the plane (i.e. millions of additional variables when we try to figure out what happened)?

Great idea until it hits reality. Here's why: (2, Interesting)

doublem (118724) | about 11 years ago | (#6359832)

Great idea until someone needs to make an emergency landing on a C.D. Highway (Many Highways were required by law to have a certain amount of space that could be used as a landing strip) only to find the "Soft Wall" directs them into the orphanage next to the greyhound station where 2,000 nuns are loading up for their trip the the annual "Sisters of Mercy and free medical care division" convention.

And let's not get started on what being inside a "soft Wall" would do to properly values, and what being in the likely "Tried to hit the soft wall but ended up here" zone would do to the value of your property.

And who wants to be a whole slew of the wealthy will ante up to get their homes listed as being in a "Soft Wall"

And what about an out of date "Soft Wall" database that prevents a small plane from landing in a newly constructed airport?

And what about the manual override? There's ALWAYS a manual override. Just ask Riff.

Impractical (4, Interesting)

russx2 (572301) | about 11 years ago | (#6359833)

If I were a pilot, I would certainly not feel safe knowing that the plane will prevent me from entering certain airspace beyond my control. It's all well and good in theory... until the shit hits the fan.

Aside from the obvious risk of software problems (why is the plane trying to veer into that mountain?!) there's also the risk of unpredictable circumstances. What happens if some freaky weather condition needs we need to divert the flight path over a city to evade it etc.? Of course, the answer is to include an 'off' switch but then this defeats the whole point.

Also if it relies on GPS, would it not be possible to just jam the positioning signal from within the plane?

A clever(ish) idea but like a lot of ideas, just too impractical.

Closing the barn door after (2, Flamebait)

PhysicsGenius (565228) | about 11 years ago | (#6359837)

the horses have been stolen. And the thieves apprehended.

While this technology is theoretically interesting, it won't save the victims of the 9/11 FTC disaster. And the terrorists have been subdued--you only have to turn on CNN and see that Iraq is now safely under American (to say nothing of Christian) control.

Hackproof but not Fuelproof (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6359844)

Heh, get it? goes like this...
Run run run until you're like, really low on fuel.
Climb to 40Kft, right over Chicago.
Turn off engines (another just now idea) or circle until you fume out.
Uh, what then beavis?
Isn't that like magnets with like poles opposing each other?
in this scenario however, methinks the plane wins.
not a soft boom either.
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