Polish Aeroplanes Grounded by Systems Hack

By Gary Cutlack on at

A troubling glimpse into the world of the near future has been provided by Polish airline LOT, which saw chunks of its fleet grounded by an apparent computer hack yesterday. We could soon be in a world in which furious Reddit users can DDoS Easyjet out of the sky for overcharging someone for a tin of Diet Coke.

It wasn't anything quite as terrible as some North Korean student taking control of an actual aeroplane, though. It appears that the ground-based systems controlling LOT's operations at Warsaw's Chopin airport were breached in some way on Sunday, making it impossible for the flier to manage its passenger inventory and flight plans -- meaning outgoing flights were impossible to manage.

Some 1,400 passengers had their outgoing flights cancelled or disrupted, with 10 flights to the likes of Munich, Hamburg and Brussels cancelled completely and more than 12 delayed. In total, the company says its computers were offline for around five hours, leading it to put some passengers up in hotels while alternatives were booked.

LOT spokesman Adrian Kubicki seems to think the problem or vulnerability that left it open to the hack isn't specific to the company, explaining: "We're using state-of-the-art computer systems, so this could potentially be a threat to others in the industry." [Reuters]