File - United Airlines planes take off and land at San Francisco airport, California. (REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson)
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Security researcher Chris Roberts made headlines last month when he was hauled off a plane in New York by the FBI and accused of hacking into flight controls via his underseat entertainment unit.Other security researchers say Roberts -- who was quoted by the FBI as saying he once caused "a sideways movement of the plane during a flight" -- has helped draw attention to a wider issue: that the aviation industry has not kept pace with the threat hackers pose to increasingly computer-connected airplanes. More worrying than people like Roberts, said Mark Gazit, CEO of Israel-based security company ThetaRay, are the hackers probing aircraft systems on the quiet.The red flags raised by Roberts' case are already worrying some airlines, says Ralf Cabos, a Singapore-based specialist in inflight entertainment systems.One airline official at a recent trade show, he said, feared the growing trend of offering inflight WiFi allowed hackers to gain remote access to the plane. Experts question whether such systems can be completely isolated.
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