Report: ‘Significant security control weaknesses’ at FAA threaten US airspace

Security weaknesses in the computing systems of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) pose a cyber threat to U.S. airspace and has left the FAA with insufficient ability "to ensure the safe and uninterrupted operation of the national airspace system," according to a new report by the federal government's watchdog group.

The FAA's systems are vulnerable to hackers and other would-be cyber terrorists seeking to interrupt U.S. air traffic safeguards and cause catastrophic destruction, according to the report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

The cyber weaknesses range from the inadequate ability to detect intrusions by hackers to unsatisfactory safeguards on critical systems, according to the report.

"Significant security control weaknesses remain, threatening the agency's ability to ensure the safe and uninterrupted operation of the national airspace system (NAS)," the report concluded.

"These include weaknesses in controls intended to prevent, limit, and detect unauthorized access to computer resources, such as controls for protecting system boundaries, identifying and authenticating users, authorizing users to access systems, encrypting sensitive data, and auditing and monitoring activity on FAA's systems," according to the report. "Additionally, shortcomings in boundary protection controls between less-secure systems and the operational NAS environment increase the risk from these weaknesses."

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