Departure boards at Bristol Airport Hacked

It has been reported that the departure boards at Bristol Airport were recently taken offline for two days after being hit by a “speculative” cyber-attack.

A spokesperson for the airport said that the displays were taken offline early on Friday morning as a precautionary measure.

The attack was described as a similar measure to “ransomware”, while passengers were forced to read their departure times from whiteboards situated in and around the airport.

While many of the screens were back online as of Sunday, no flights were found to be affected from the attack.

James Gore, a spokesperson from the airport said that: “We believe there was an online attempt to target part of our administrative systems and that required us to take a number of applications offline as a precautionary measure, including the one that provides our data for flight information screens.

"That was done to contain the problem and avoid any further impact on more critical systems.”

Mr Gore assured passengers that no safety or security systems were impacted or put at risk during the attack, although it took “longer than people might have expected” to rectify the issue.

Discussing a cautious approach, Mr Gore said that the number of safety and security systems operating at the airport led to extensive checks before putting the boards back online.

Only in June researchers warned that hackers will soon have the ability to hack planes, and that the potential of an aircraft being breached while in flight is only a “matter of time.”

An article published by Motherboard indicated that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has been conducting attempts to explore a plane’s vulnerability to remote attacks.

Although airlines have been investing in cybersecurity for a number of years, many vulnerabilities remain within systems.

A 2016 presentation on aircraft cybersecurity by the DHS noted that most commercial aircraft have a life cycle of 20 or more years. This means that current vulnerabilities could therefore last for another two decades.