Saturday, February 4, 2012

Hackers force us to make JSF more secure

There's been some commentary on the recent article, "China's Role in JSF's Spiraling Costs." TaoSecurity (Richard Bejtlich’s) has an excellent blog on this, which follows up on a tweet by @4n6ir.

However, I have a different take:
“Before the intrusions were discovered nearly three years ago, Chinese hackers actually sat in on what were supposed to have been secure, online program-progress conferences, the officials say.”
This sounds a lot like “FBI Admits Hacker Group’s Eavesdropping.” So after at least three years we still haven’t learned how to keep our secure conference calls, well, um, actually secure – but that’s a digression.

The article on the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) goes on: ”…need for redesign of critical equipment. Examples include specialized communications and antenna arrays for stealth aircraft, as well as significant rewriting of software to protect systems vulnerable to hacking.”
The JSF’s software systems had serious vulnerabilities: “Defense analysts note that the JSF’s information system was not designed with cyberespionage, now called advanced persistent threat, in mind.” The JSF’s Multifunction Advanced Data Link (MADL) was dropped entirely because of reported “money issues.”

We were building one of the most “computerized” and “networked” fighter planes in the world. Imagine if the plane went into production with those serious software vulnerabilities and it was open to attack via it’s own aerial network? It’s not like adversaries haven’t already demonstrated their ability to hack our communications channels in the field to hijack drone telemetry, video, and perhaps to crash them.
If there is a silver lining here, it’s that when the JSF does fly it’s systems will be better protected against software vulnerabilities and it won’t be broadcasting a SSID, although a Mach-2 WAP would have been pretty cool.