Seattle - Boeing has taken a patent for a technology that simulates cyberattacks on airplanes to train pilots. Boeing thinks that cyberattacks may be a real threat to flight safety and pilots should be trained to determine and withstand them.

The team behind the idea are three Boeing employees: Daniel Nguyen, a cybersecurity expert; Jason Shelton, a cybersecurity product developer at Boeing Commercial Aircraft, and Timothy Mitchell, avionics engineer.

The highly sophisticated flight control systems on modern aircraft such as sensors and processors pass vast amounts of data to each other on digital networks, says Boeing.

Because of the amount of digital information required to operate and maintain an aircraft is steadily increasing. The importance of protecting aircraft systems from cyberattacks is also increasing. Due to the structure of certain aircraft networks, cyberattacks on the aircraft systems may be a problem,
Boeing notes in its patent application.

According to the aircraft manufacturer, current computer security means might protect aircraft systems and the digital networks they are on. But there is no any secure platform to simulate the effects of a cyberattack on an aircraft and evaluate how the flight crew would respond to such attacks.

Because the pilot is such an integral part of the operation and control of the aircraft, pilot reaction to a cyberattack is important,
Boeing added.

The discussions were first brought into the public in 2012 by two Cambridge cybersecurity experts who said they discovered a "back door" in a computer chip used in aircraft such as the Boeing 787, which could cause the chip to be taken over by hackers via the internet.

In 2014, FAA ordered Boeing to strengthen its computer network safety systems on its jets, saying that the connectivity of aircraft systems with external computers and networks outside the airplane may result in security vulnerabilities.

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