FAA systems hit by malware-based attack earlier 2015

Pierluigi Paganini April 08, 2015

According to officials at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), hackers earlier this year targeted the Agency network with a malware.

It’s official, the network of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) was targeted early 2015 by unknown hackers. According to FAA officials, the threat actors used a malware to compromise the infrastructure of the agency.

“In early February, the FAA discovered that a “a known virus” spread via email on “its administrative computer system,” agency spokeswoman Laura Brown” reports the Nextgov.

Fortunately the hackers haven’t compromised internal systems and haven’t caused damage. Once the experts have detected the malware they operated to sanitize the agency’s systems. The experts at FAA confirmed that just a single administrative computer was compromised.

“The agency immediately took steps to block and contain the virus and clean any affected computers,” Brown said. “After a thorough review, the FAA did not identify any damage to agency systems,” she added.

An upcoming competition among contractors for the establishment of Cyber Security Management Center (CSMC) Security Operations Center (SOC) support services might be altered by the cyber attack. The attack is explicitly referred in an interim award notice published on April 2.

“Due to a recent cyber-attack, the FAA requires additional planning time to determine the impact to the competitive procurement’s requirements”. states the notice.

FAA cyber attack

FAA has defined a short-term bridge contract for the assignment of the activities to the incumbent contractor SRA International, ensuring the continuity of the operations while preparing a new solicitation.

The SRA will continue to support the Cyber Security Management Center Security Operations Center until Feb. 29, 2016, as reported in the notice.

report published by Government Accounting Office (GAO) in January urges the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to adopt a formal process to “Address Weaknesses in Air Traffic Control Systems.” The FAA has taken steps to protect its air traffic control systems from threats, including cyber threats, but according to the GAO, the systems adopted in the Aviation industry are still affected by weaknesses that could be exploited by hackers. The weaknesses addressed in the report include prevention, detection and mitigation of unauthorized access to computer resources used in the industry.

“The excessive interconnectivity between [the National Airspace System] and non-NAS environments increased the risk that FAA’s mission-critical air traffic control systems could be compromised,” the GAO report stated.

Pierluigi Paganini

(Security Affairs –  FAA, hacking)

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