A Twitter prank posted by Chris Roberts, a security expert, has led to him being banned by United Airlines. In a Twitter post last week, the researcher suggested that he could break into the airline’s communication systems and could release the oxygen masks.
United Airlines banned Roberts
While trying to board a United flight to San Francisco, Roberts was stopped by the airline’s security officials at the boarding gate. Before this, the researcher was removed from a flight as he landed in New York by the FBI, and was interrogated for several hours regarding his tweet. At the same time, the law enforcement agency also confiscated Robert’s laptops and other electronic equipment, says a report from Stuff.co.nz.
Following the ban, Roberts’s lawyer Nate Cardozo has expressed his disappointment over the issue, arguing that the security researcher was trying to help United Airlines. Roberts, who afterward took a Southwest Airlines flight to reach San Francisco, is expected to address a conference regarding computer security threats in the state.
Roberts’ Twitter remarks ringed the alarm
Roberts is the owner of One World Labs that analyzes cybersecurity risks. Recently, the researcher has given interviews evaluating the shortcomings of the airline’s security systems. In one such discussion with Fox News, the expert hypothesized switching off a flight’s engines at a height of 35,000 feet. While at another held with CNN, Roberts revealed that he has often accessed data relating to the flight’ engines, fuel, and even flight-management systems by connecting to a box under his seat, says the report.
A spokesperson for the airline pointed out that the researchers’ remarks via Twitter, and his previous remarks suggesting that he interfered with the aircraft’s management systems has led the company to ban him from using its services. The representative also added that United’s flight systems cannot be tampered using the methods that Roberts suggested.
However, the Government Accountability Office indicated just last week that modern aircraft, because they are connected to the Internet, are prone to external manipulation.