Black Hat 2018 is in full swing at Mandalay Bay. The annual event began in 1997 and brings in more than 17,000 hackers and cyber security experts. Every year, the event focuses on security concerns, and this year, there's a big one, shared by Ruben Santamarta.
"On an in-flight aircraft, from the ground, we managed to get into the Wi-Fi," he told a crowd at Black Hat 2018.
In 2014, Santamarta did a presentation showing how this could be done, but he said no one believed him. Four years later, he said he's actually done it.
"We can control these antennas and the positioning, and transmission," he said.
The science is complicated, but Santamarta explained it. He said he can use antennas to hack into satellites, through compromised channels from anywhere in the world.
During his speech, he highlighted the main concerns his research presents, the first being airplanes. Santamarta said he got into an in-flight mid-air, and was able to get onto the Wi-Fi and people's phones and more.
"We accessed non-safety communication devices on board from the ground."
Santamarta said he's less concerned about the hacking of airplanes as he is what he discovered when it comes to our military, and maritime vessels. He said he can pinpoint the location of troops and potentially, military bases.
"We cannot provide more details because it is so sensitive," he said. "We are working with the authorities to disclose the issues."
Santamarta and his partners say the research shouldn't alarm people, but it should serve as a wake up call. Santamarta will present the evidence and his full research at black hat tomorrow. Santamarta is from IOActive!, an IT service management company.
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