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Mon, Oct 18, 2004

Could ATC Computers Be Targets For Hackers?

At Least 20 En Route Centers Have Computers Not Adequately Secured

The nation's air traffic control system is vulnerable to hack-attacks, according to a government audit -- and the FAA is now scrambling to secure some of its most vital computers against cyber-terrorists.

SecurityFocus reports at least 20 Air Route Traffic Control Centers, responsible for directing high-altitude traffic nationwide, have inadequate computer security. "While having limited exposure to the general public, en route center computer systems need to be better protected," said the DOT Inspector General's report, dated October 1st. "FAA needs to commit to reviewing all operational air traffic control systems -- at en route, approach control, and airport terminal facilities."

What little the FAA has done to secure its IT systems to date also came under fire in the IG's report. For example, we found that FAA checked vulnerabilities on major computer servers but not on end-user computers," it said. "As a result, tens of thousands of workstations on its networks have not been checked for vulnerabilities."

The FAA's response? "The FAA has made significant progress in its information security program," said agency spokeswoman Tammy Jones. "We do concur with the Inspector General's report that more needs to be done, so we continue to work on our systems."

FMI: www.faa.gov

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