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Secure access codes for United Airlines cockpits accidentally released online

By William Gayde ยท 10 replies
May 15, 2017
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  1. As if United Airlines hasn't had enough of a PR disaster in the recent weeks, there's now word of another, potentially dangerous mishap. United's cockpit door access codes have been inadvertently posted online to a public website. This wasn't the work of hackers, terrorists, or a disgruntled employee. Instead, an airline attendant mistakenly posted them online without realizing what they contained.

    Flight cockpits were secured following the September 11th attacks and this included attaching locks with keypads to all doors. Anyone wishing to enter must input the correct access code and pilots further have the ability to override the system if it becomes compromised. In a statement, they said "the safety of our customers and crew is our top priority and United utilizes a number of measures to keep our flight decks secure beyond door access information." United has told all pilots to continue visually inspecting anyone wishing to enter the flight deck, so "in the interim this protocol ensures our cockpits remain secure."

    The Air Line Pilots Association, the largest pilot union in the world, has since said that the problem has been fixed. It is believed that United will have to manually change the access codes on all of its airplanes. United has nearly 4500 departures each day but this total code upgrade can be completed fairly quickly if United wishes to pursue it.

    In an email to employees, United has reiterated that the codes are "sensitive security information and sharing this with anyone not authorized or who does not have a need to know is strictly prohibited." In the meantime, "the risk of a breach of the flight deck door is strongly mitigated by carefully following the flight deck security procedures."

    Permalink to story.

     
  2. Uncle Al

    Uncle Al TS Evangelist Posts: 2,393   +1,257

    Stupid, negligent, thoughtless, unforgivable ..... None of these, even ALL of these are not powerful enough to describe just how utterly unacceptable this kind of conduct is. If ever there were a better reason for the government to re-institute broad based regulations on an industry, this has to be close to the strongest. Airlines are more interested in assaulting their cash paying customers than they are in keeping them safe!
     
  3. psycros

    psycros TS Evangelist Posts: 1,553   +943

    It was probably an honest mistake, but a dire one. In truth, flight attendants probably shouldn't even HAVE those codes...and now that the terrorists know they DO, those door codes are useless. A flight attendant isn't a very tough nut to crack, particularly when she knows her interrogator WILL kill her. In fact, the only real safeguard left is the knowledge that the terrorists will probably kill the crew (and everyone else) regardless of whether their demands are met or not. This might grant the hardier souls being threatened with *more* resolve. I kind of wish we were like the Israelis. Not only will most of them spit in the faces of their captors but many will also try to capture or kill them (and have some training to make that feasible). Ultimately, the cockpit needs to only be accessible from outside via a remote command from a tower, Air Force plane, etc. or some kind of failsafe mechanism in case of a crash.
     
  4. turismozilla

    turismozilla TS Booster Posts: 149   +44

    So, United breaks...

    * Guitars
    * Doctors' teeth
    * Their own security
     
  5. trparky

    trparky TS Booster Posts: 195   +81

    They also killed a rabbit as well.
     
  6. davislane1

    davislane1 Inquisitor Posts: 4,208   +3,154

    Overract much? All they do now is change the door codes, which don't prevent terrorist attacks anyways.
     
  7. Capaill

    Capaill TS Evangelist Posts: 343   +121

    "The Air Line Pilots Association, the largest pilot union in the world, has since said that the problem has been fixed. It is believed that United will have to manually change the access codes on all of its airplanes. United has nearly 4500 departures each day but this total code upgrade can be completed fairly quickly if United wishes to pursue it."
    How can the problem have been fixed if the door codes have not yet been changed? It should be easy enough to verify if anyone is on a United Airlines flight right now.
     
  8. mbrowne5061

    mbrowne5061 TS Evangelist Posts: 557   +240

    I think he was talking about in the future, after the codes have been changed. United will likely share the codes with flight crews again as well - or at least a hijacker might assume so.

    But he is still over reacting.
     
  9. davislane1

    davislane1 Inquisitor Posts: 4,208   +3,154

    The flight crew should have the codes. They're the flight crew.

    Perfect example: Germanwings Flight 9525. The co-pilot locked himself in the cockpit and the flight crew couldn't do a thing about it, even with an axe.

    Point is, this is a non-story. The door and the code do nothing to increase safety in the real world. Ever since 9/11, would-be hijackers from the cabin get ganged up on by passengers, who know what the rules are when dealing with Islamists. An unsecured payload is a higher risk than flying jihadists.
     
  10. Raoul Duke

    Raoul Duke TS Evangelist Posts: 1,068   +434

    Two rules of security 'do you have the level of security clearance' followed by 'need to know'
    guess a pilot will have to open the cockpit door now themselves to get their coffee. Do jumbo jets come with cup holders for the pilots?
     
    Last edited: May 16, 2017
  11. mbrowne5061

    mbrowne5061 TS Evangelist Posts: 557   +240

    Agreed for the most part. The only place you'll see the scheming jihadist as he interrogates flight crews for the codes will be in a Hollywood action-thriller.
     
    davislane1 likes this.

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