Can the F-35 be hacked ?

Cockpit, radar, helmet-mounted display, and other avionics
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Conan

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Unread post28 Mar 2011, 06:44

munny wrote:Just because something contains a computer doesn't mean it's automatically susceptible to hacking. To break into the core of any system you need an interface to come in on. The only viable, contactable interfaces of an F-35 would be its various datalinks.
These datalinks would sanitize any data being sent to the main sensor processing apps, so while you could possibly send incorrect data to a communications channel causing some sensor weirdness, perhaps even cause that comms channel to fail, you wouldn't be able to get to the F-35's core systems and shut it down....etc.

There was talk in another thread of a kill code that the US has built into the aircraft that can be used to remotely shut down non-US F-35's .... you can bet this type of thing would involve heavy encryption and its implementation would be heavily guarded and isolated from prying hackers.

Before even attempting to attack an F-35, hackers would also need weeks/months of access to one to work out possible security holes and bugs to exploit. Its easy in civilian internet world when 80% of computers are running the same operating system using the same protocols. In military hardware world where every interface is physically hard-wired to send a specific set of messages in a set format, its next to impossible, even with detailed inside information.

BTW, the best way into an F-35 would be via the maintenance software used on the machines they plug the F-35 into before/after flights. If those machines are on a network, then it would be crazy to not have them absolutely secured.


Yep, identifying exploits into an encrypted system that runs proprietary software of which there are at best only a few thousand examples on the planet (as opposed for example to tens or hundreds of millions of Windows systems) is going to be a tough challenge.

There are other challenges too. The aircraft are non-operational on the ground most of the time and thus protected from remote exploitation by the simple expedient that the network you are attempting to access is switched off.

These type of aircraft are also closely guarded when on the ground and the personnel who have access are closely monitored, but are probably your best bet, assuming of course that there is some means by which it is physically possible to connect to the F-35 hardware and image those storage systems or otherwise copy the information stored on the aircraft and thus have time to identify exploits at your leisure. I would not be surprised if there was a proprietary method by which one physically connects to the F-35 hardware to prevent this sort of thing. I would be stunned if you could just plug a USB stick into it, for example.

Attempting to hack an F-35 (or any aircraft really) in flight is going to present considerable problems, not least of which is that you are going to have to be transmitting data packets via radio transmission to the F-35 by some means to hack it, so you are either going to be out of range very quickly if using a fixed system or having to keeping pace (or at least in airborne range) with the F-35.

Either way, it is unlikely your efforts will go unnoticed by the aircraft you are trying to hack and you may find that your attempt at exploiting the F-35's network results in a very precise targetting solution being available to said F-35...
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munny

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Unread post28 Mar 2011, 10:54

popcorn wrote:Hacking into enemy IADS nodes is supposedly one of the future capabilities being considered for the Next Generation Jammer program isn't it?


"Suter 1 allowed U.S. operators to monitor what enemy radars could see. The capability enables U.S. forces to assess the effectiveness of their stealth systems or terrain-masking tactics. Suter 2 permits U.S. operators to take control of enemy networks as system managers and actually manipulate the sensors, steering them away from penetrating U.S. aircraft. Suter 3 was tested last summer to add the ability to invade the links to time-critical targets, such as battlefield ballistic missile launchers or mobile surface-to-air missile launchers."

http://www.smartplanet.com/technology/b ... mmer/6068/
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batu731

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Unread post30 Mar 2011, 06:41

The data link protocols are the primary target of hacking in cyber warfare (e.g. Link16)
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grinner68

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Unread post09 Apr 2011, 04:04

For all you know the Chinese have already read every single line of code that has been written for the F-35.

They don't need to re-write the computer code, just to do something small.
Say, have the flight computer reboot while in flight, or just turn off.

Come on folks, surely some of you have seen the scene.

"they lost power just before they came in contact with the enemy, They said it was like someone just turned off a switch"
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munny

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Unread post09 Apr 2011, 12:40

If only it were that simple. Example ... Linux is an open source computer operating system, yet many web servers are run on Linux and its secure. Even if you know how it works internally, doesn't mean you can get through the firewalls and security measures to do anything to it.

The difficulty with hacking an aircraft remotely is that its interfaces do not allow any commands which are not part of normal operation.

Your scenario with the F-35 is like someone hacking a logged off linux server with a mouse (and no way to physically modify the mouse either).
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aaam

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Unread post11 Apr 2011, 04:03

spazsinbad wrote:Meteor said: "...apparently much of the F-35 program was already compromised by Chinese exploitation of contractor networks."

My question: Where is proof of this statement please. Thanks. I can recall some 'not so classified online data' was compromised but recall reading that 'classified' data is NOT online or otherwise on highly secure networks that are not able to be compromised.


Supposedly, it was not the Pentagon or Lockheed that was penetrated, but a number of the subcontractors.
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