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US Says Plane Finder App Threatens Security

samzenpus posted more than 3 years ago | from the dial-D-for-danger dept.

Iphone 524

ProgramErgoSum writes "The Plane Finder AR application, developed by a British firm for the Apple iPhone and Google's Android, allows users to point their phone at the sky and see the position, height and speed of nearby aircraft. It also shows the airline, flight number, departure point, destination and even the likely course-the features which could be used to target an aircraft with a surface-to-air missile, or to direct another plane on to a collision course, the 'Daily Mail' reported. The program, sold for just 1.79 pounds in the online Apple store, has now been labelled an 'aid to terrorists' by security experts and the US Department of Homeland Security is also examining how to protect airliners. The new application works by intercepting the so-called Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcasts (ADS-B) transmitted by most passenger aircraft to a new satellite tracking system that supplements or, in some countries, replaces radar."

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524 comments

OMG (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33778304)

This is like totally bad and stuff.

Re:OMG (-1, Offtopic)

zmollusc (763634) | more than 3 years ago | (#33778412)

I KNOW, right? It is just like WOW! you know?

Re:OMG (5, Insightful)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#33778530)

DHS might be able to stop corporations, but they can't stop me from publishing the source code:

PA LAW: "The free communication of thoughts and opinions is one of the invaluable rights of man, and every citizen may freely speak, write and print on any subject." ----- MD LAW: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution thereof, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people thereof..... the liberty of the press ought to be inviolably preserved; that every citizen of the State ought to be allowed to speak, write and publish his sentiments on all subjects, being responsible for the abuse of that privilege."

And so on across all 50 Member States. Nobody at the US level has the right to block publishing or sharing source code of programs I or thers create

Aside -

I found this bit of the Bill of Rights interesting: "Monopolies are odious, contrary to the spirit of a free government and the principles of commerce, and ought not to be suffered." And yet the BGE and Comcast monopolies exist. Perhaps the Maryland government should buy-out the wires and lease the lines to any company that wished to use them (BGE, PPL, comcast, cox, appletv, etc). i.e. Consumer choice is a right.

fear (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33778310)

Be afraid! Everything is a threat!
.
.
.
.
.
and we can't take away all your freedoms unless you are afraid...

Re:fear (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33778344)

Haha, wish you sit on a plane which has been pointed at by an iPhone.

Already done? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33778316)

How is this any different from a website like flightstats.com, and I'm sure there are plenty of other sites like that too. It isn't difficult to figure out where the planes are. The app probably only makes it marginally easier to view this data on a phone. Sounds like much ado about nothing

Re:Already done? (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33778654)

Its different because the data fed to flightstats is delayed for exactly this sort of reason. The app developers are intercepting identifying signals transmitted directly by the airplanes closing the gap between real-time and that delayed by a government-mandated time period. I'm an airplane geek so I would love an app like this. In the meantime, I'm stuck decoding ACARS transmissions with my laptop. I love watching planes take off over my house and have pictures of the plane get automatically downloaded from airliners.net. Way cool.

It's bad (3, Insightful)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | more than 3 years ago | (#33778320)

If something could potentially be used in a bad way, even if most people aren't going to abuse it, it must immediately be banned! So, basically, anything that can be used as a weapon, too. Which is... pretty much everything.

Coming up next - mandatory blindfolds! (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 3 years ago | (#33778418)

If something could potentially be used in a bad way, even if most people aren't going to abuse it, it must immediately be banned! So, basically, anything that can be used as a weapon, too. Which is... pretty much everything.

Mandatory blindfolds or hoods. Include the flight crew, because God might tell them to crash another plane [wikipedia.org] .

-- Barbie

Re:Coming up next - mandatory blindfolds! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33778478)

Is today Tuesday? Or do I have it backwards?

Re:Coming up next - mandatory blindfolds! (2, Interesting)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 3 years ago | (#33778616)

You read the post! Put your blindfold back on, you terr'rist!

Seriously, people already don't want to fly, and who can blame them? China has the right idea with their new record-breaking high-speed trains. And for trans-ocean voyages, a slow cruise is more pleasant anyway - or just teleconference. It's not like we don't have the technology.

In a backwards way, the terrorists are actually helping to make the planet a bit greener, except that the US military is the world's single largest user of fossil fuels. And no, this is in no way a criticism of the military - they're under civilian leadership and have to suck it up even when the boss is an idjit, just like the rest of us.

-- Barbie

Re:It's bad (5, Insightful)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 3 years ago | (#33778586)

I'd have thought that the _problem_ is that the aircraft is broadcasting its position, not that somebody wrote an app to listen to the signal.

If some Android developer can figure out how to do it, so can anybody else.

But...go ahead, ban the app if it makes you feel better.

Yes, let's all focus on the iPhone apps... (5, Insightful)

kbensema (1868742) | more than 3 years ago | (#33778322)

... instead of, say, the surface-to-air missiles

Re:Yes, let's all focus on the iPhone apps... (2, Insightful)

fredmosby (545378) | more than 3 years ago | (#33778376)

But iPhone apps are new. An article that says "Surface to air missiles can shoot down airplanes". Just won't get as many readers.

Re:Yes, let's all focus on the iPhone apps... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33778382)

... instead of, say, the surface-to-air missiles

Hey, I have a right to bear arms. You iPhone users can git your own amendment or else you can git out!

Re:Yes, let's all focus on the iPhone apps... (2, Insightful)

f3rret (1776822) | more than 3 years ago | (#33778422)

... instead of, say, the surface-to-air missiles

Hey, I have a right to bear arms. You iPhone users can git your own amendment or else you can git out!

I really don't think the 2nd amendment makes allowances for the possession of strategic or tactical air defenses.

Speaking of which, instead of spending time on worrying about iPhone apps, maybe these terrorism "experts" should be concentrating on preventing terrorists from gaining access to surface-to-air missiles.

Re:Yes, let's all focus on the iPhone apps... (4, Interesting)

Entropius (188861) | more than 3 years ago | (#33778466)

The intent behind it does, really.

The whole "well-regulated militia" bit likely intends to give citizens the right to be sufficiently well-armed to constitute a significant military force -- that's what a militia is. At the time, that consisted of rifles and pistols, but any modern significant military force would necessarily include RPG's, MANPADS, and the like.

If you really want the Second Amendment to mean what it originally was intended to mean, then yes -- private ownership of these weapons is Constitutionally guaranteed. I don't think this is a good idea, but this position requires changing the meaning of the 2nd.

Re:Yes, let's all focus on the iPhone apps... (1)

f3rret (1776822) | more than 3 years ago | (#33778552)

Good point but wouldn't they technically be considered a 'destructive device' as per The National Firearms Act of 1934 [wikipedia.org]

Also would the 2nd amendment allow one to own fully weaponized tanks and fighter jets? Because if it does I'm SO moving to the US.

Re:Yes, let's all focus on the iPhone apps... (1)

the linux geek (799780) | more than 3 years ago | (#33778554)

The typical interpretation that I've seen from the more conservative pro-gun groups is that it includes any weapon up to and including what would normally be used by a single infantryman in wartime. So you can have rifles, smaller anti-tank weapons, and MANPADS, but anything crew-served is out.

Re:Yes, let's all focus on the iPhone apps... (4, Insightful)

0123456 (636235) | more than 3 years ago | (#33778604)

The typical interpretation that I've seen from the more conservative pro-gun groups is that it includes any weapon up to and including what would normally be used by a single infantryman in wartime. So you can have rifles, smaller anti-tank weapons, and MANPADS, but anything crew-served is out.

And where does the 2nd amendment say that?

The Constitution implicitly assumes the private ownership of warships (see 'letters of marque and reprisal'), so the idea that the founders would have been shocked by private ownership of crew-served weapons seems rather silly.

That said, I'm not sure I'd be too happy with rednecks towing 105mm howitzers behind pickups with a rack of Stingers in the back.

Re:Yes, let's all focus on the iPhone apps... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33778580)

MANPADS

I don't want to know.

Re:Yes, let's all focus on the iPhone apps... (2, Insightful)

fishbowl (7759) | more than 3 years ago | (#33778674)

>At the time, that consisted of rifles and pistols

And cannons.

Re:Yes, let's all focus on the iPhone apps... (1)

jon787 (512497) | more than 3 years ago | (#33778598)

In theory, a SAM classified as a destructive device and you could buy one with the right ATF paperwork.

Re:Yes, let's all focus on the iPhone apps... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33778606)

Speaking of which, instead of spending time on worrying about iPhone apps, maybe these terrorism "experts" should be concentrating on preventing terrorists from gaining access to surface-to-air missiles.

That would be actual work. "Civil Servants" don't go to the office to actually accomplish anything. They go there to either goof off, complain, or find some way of inflating their ego.

Re:Yes, let's all focus on the iPhone apps... (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 3 years ago | (#33778642)

In actuality you can argue that the 2nd amendment gives one the right to own any weapon at all. This obviously includes tactical nuclear bombs, submarines, aircraft, aircraft carriers, tanks, anything.

Re:Yes, let's all focus on the iPhone apps... (1)

mapkinase (958129) | more than 3 years ago | (#33778384)

Plain finder application does not "threaten" security. It's not a person to be threaten. What is threatened here is your precious freedoms, which you declare left and right and do very little to fight for.

Re:Yes, let's all focus on the iPhone apps... (1)

dwillden (521345) | more than 3 years ago | (#33778390)

None of which I'm aware of track targets in this manner. Either they are heat seekers, radar guided or optically guided (video camera's).

Re:Yes, let's all focus on the iPhone apps... (1)

Entropius (188861) | more than 3 years ago | (#33778494)

I imagine you could make a seeker for a primitive SAM using a Canon compact camera and CHDK firmware. They make one with an angular resolution of about 5 arcseconds per pixel, image stabilization, and a cost of a few hundred bucks.

Re:Yes, let's all focus on the iPhone apps... (-1, Troll)

TheMidget (512188) | more than 3 years ago | (#33778452)

What a feat [goo.gl] , a simple cheesy iPhone app that has pilots quaking in their boots.

Re:Yes, let's all focus on the iPhone apps... (2, Informative)

ryanleary (805532) | more than 3 years ago | (#33778486)

What a feat [goo.gl] , a simple cheesy iPhone app that has pilots quaking in their boots.

Do not click parent link. Goatse. I need to wash my eyes out.

GP link = goatse (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33778524)

If only I had read your reply before clicking the link. Perhaps an informative subject line will help to save others...

Re:Yes, let's all focus on the iPhone apps... (1)

cgenman (325138) | more than 3 years ago | (#33778548)

The iPhone app sells for $2. A Stinger costs $38,000 dollars. The iPhone app profits all go to one author in the UK. The profits from a Stinger go to Raytheon.

Not that I'm pessimistic.

Re:Yes, let's all focus on the iPhone apps... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33778572)

Arms merchants have more powerful lobbyists. Nobody steps on their toes. That's why we're all kissy kissy with Libya again..

Re:Yes, let's all focus on the iPhone apps... (5, Funny)

kenj0418 (230916) | more than 3 years ago | (#33778600)

Besides - I'm pretty sure you have to agree not to use your device for anything involving terrorism or nuclear or biological weapons when you sign up for your iTunes account. So terrorists couldn't use it anyway.

Re:Yes, let's all focus on the iPhone apps... (5, Insightful)

cgenman (325138) | more than 3 years ago | (#33778610)

Also note that the iPhone app works because THE AIRPLANE IS BROADCASTING THIS INFORMATION CONSTANTLY. If this information is a security threat, why did they create an air traffic control system where this information is public? If you can't be arsed to encrypt your own broadcasts, is it really shocking when someone actually reads them?

Terrorist can code now (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33778334)

I'm pretty sure the terrorist could make their own tool even if this thing was banned.

Aid to terrorists, eh? (5, Informative)

noidentity (188756) | more than 3 years ago | (#33778336)

This news story is an aid to terrorists, since it lets them know that this app could be an aid to them. Bottled water is an aid to terrorists, since it keeps terrorists mentally alert by avoiding dehydration. Shoes are an aid to terrorists, since they allow terrorists to avoid stepping on tacks. The sun is an aid to terrorists, since it illuminates the area so terrorists can see what they're doing. Calculators are aids to terrorists, since they allow them to calculate various aspects of their attacks. Paper is an aid to terrorists, since it allows terrorists to write their plans down. This post is an aid to terrorists, since it tells terrorists what things aid them.

Re:Aid to terrorists, eh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33778374)

This post has been forcibly removed and bundled into the back of a non-descript white van by three men in black suits and sunglasses, as it was an aid to terrorists.

Re:Aid to terrorists, eh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33778392)

I was about to post the same thing. ENOUGH!

Damn near ANYTHING can be used by terrorists to achieve their aims, if they're resourceful and determined enough.

It's fucking ridiculous the tizzy everyone flies into because of this stupid shit. Don't prevent useful tools (not saying this one is particularly useful) from being used by the public because someone MIGHT use them for evil.

Did Anybody Read the Fucking Article?? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33778442)

I expected these typical responses from people didn't even bother reading the article. Of course slashdot got the headline wrong, but that's to be expected as well.

The fact is that nobody in the US government has said this app is an aid to terrorists. Its just something that is supposed by a couple of random people. I don't know how slashdot comes to the conclusion that the "US" (government I presume) exclaimed this.

In short, this entire article and summary is just flamebait and you suckers just got trolled hook, line and sinker. The editors should be ashamed of themselves.

Re:Aid to terrorists, eh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33778506)

The iTerrorists have won

a bit late (2, Insightful)

lapsed (1610061) | more than 3 years ago | (#33778340)

Isn't this a bit like closing the barn doors after the horses have bolted? It sounds like the protocol was designed to be easily intercepted.

Righhhhtttt..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33778348)

The problem is the xPhone app not the protocol that policy and protocol that provides no security by design. What's next, "Ohhh noes, people can tell what planes are flying around by reading their transponders. We must stop planes from using these terrorist enticing electronics." That should end well.

Re:Righhhhtttt..... (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 3 years ago | (#33778432)

Actually, there are more threats. There are maps where you can find where all the airports are. There's no place where you are as likely to find an airplane as close to an airport. We should immediately forbid showing airports in the maps!

Make your own. (4, Insightful)

Pinckney (1098477) | more than 3 years ago | (#33778354)

"Anything that makes it easier for our enemies to find targets is madness. The Government must look at outlawing the marketing of such equipment."

Perhaps they should consider banning the ADS-B transmitters, then?

In any case, banning the app would do nothing to anyone with the funds for a SAM. See this document [www.lll.lu] to make your own reciever.

It should be banned (4, Insightful)

0123456 (636235) | more than 3 years ago | (#33778358)

Because terrorists would never, ever be able to find out this information by themselves, or crash their plane into an airliner by, uh, looking for it in the sky while they're flying.

Have we now moved on from security theater to security standup comedy? At best this seems to be a DHSvertisment telling terrorists where to get useful apps for their iPhone. which they might otherwise never have heard of.

Re:It should be banned (1)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | more than 3 years ago | (#33778368)

"Because terrorists would never, ever be able to find out this information by themselves"

No, they wouldn't. They need iPhones to accomplish all of their evil deeds!

Re:It should be banned (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 3 years ago | (#33778682)

Just look how successful banning 7 segment LED displays was at preventing bomb construction.

Me too (2, Insightful)

Anne Thwacks (531696) | more than 3 years ago | (#33778364)

I for one welcome our new half-wit overlords.

If it can be done with a phone app, then obviously it can be done in other ways by terrorists.

If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck ... dont vote for it

Huh? (4, Insightful)

Grey Ninja (739021) | more than 3 years ago | (#33778388)

What conceivable use is this to a terrorist? I've been considering this for a few minutes now. My kneejerk reaction was that the government is being fucking stupid. Then I pondered on exactly how knowing which plane is which is at all helpful. Any ideas anyone? Perhaps I'm focusing too much on the hijacking scenario, and someone could use it to select a target for a SAM. But that just doesn't seem likely, since I would think you would already know your target if you go through the trouble of bringing a SAM to an airport.

Re:Huh? (1, Troll)

Alain Williams (2972) | more than 3 years ago | (#33778458)

My kneejerk reaction was that the government is being fucking stupid.

The government is not being stupid ... talk up another story about terrorists ... keep the population worried about being blown up by [insert current bad boys here]. A population that is scared is easier to abuse and keep under control.

Re:Huh? (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 3 years ago | (#33778650)

The government is not being stupid

Well, short-term, you're right, they're behaving exactly as you would expect, if the intent is not to secure us but to control us. Long-term, well, they're asking for trouble. They're not invulnerable, or invincible, even though they may have convinced themselves that they are. Americans aren't desperate enough now to take any significant action, we still have some disposable income, food on table, the lights are still on. If our government(s) continue on this self-destructive orgy of dismantling our industry and the jobs that go with it, looting the Treasury, forestalling any attempt by our creative technical and business minds to engage our foreign competition, things will eventually get nasty. It won't happen right away, but there's a price to be paid for high treason.

Yes, I consider what our government and its private-sector conspirators have done to us in the name of the "environment" and the "global economy" and "free trade" to be nothing less than that.

"Sworn to protect us" my ass.

Re:Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33778666)

My kneejerk reaction was that the government is being fucking stupid.

The government is not being stupid ... talk up another story about terrorists ... keep the population worried about being blown up by [insert current bad boys here]. A population that is scared is easier to abuse and keep under control.

The government is not actually being anything in this story: it's just the speculation of some fearmongering journalists.

Re:Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33778632)

Perhaps it lets ordinary people identify what is commercial traffic and what is military traffic, perhaps the average citizen will be surprised of how much military activity there is in the airspace above them. Perhaps this will raise questions that are hard to answer for our elected officials and therefor considered as aid to terrorism.

Re:Huh? (1)

Ed_1024 (744566) | more than 3 years ago | (#33778668)

Yes, terrorists must have great difficulty identifying planes - it's not like they've got ten-foot high letters down the side and a picture on the tail that's lit up at night...

How long? (1)

Esospopenon (1838392) | more than 3 years ago | (#33778400)

My first reaction to this: If a commercial company has started doing it now, for how long has the terrorists been intercepting the ADS-B signals? I doubt they would go out of their way to tell anyone about it. It's like most security flaws, even if it is now known that a flaw exists, that does not mean nobody knew about it. And people exploiting it would very much prefer that it remains unknown.

Paraphrasing an old joke ... (4, Insightful)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 3 years ago | (#33778404)

We have a roomful of senior DHS and other government officials. The head of the group stands up and says, "Gentlemen, the results are now in ... everything is an aid to terrorism."

Did I miss something? (1)

waddgodd (34934) | more than 3 years ago | (#33778414)

Somehow in my perusal of gizmodo, slashdot, ars, and other tech sites, did I miss the "android-guided SAM" or "iphone-guided SAM"?

Without a credible threat, the DHS ought to STFU and GBTW

US Department of Homeland Security (1, Troll)

kimvette (919543) | more than 3 years ago | (#33778424)

US Department of Homeland Security is also examining how to protect airliners

Here's an idea: How about protecting the borders and allowing ICE to deport illegal aliens who are already here? That would be a great first step.

Re: US Department of Homeland Security (4, Insightful)

Entropius (188861) | more than 3 years ago | (#33778526)

I live sixty miles from the Mexican border. We have a bunch of undocumented/illegal aliens here. They are not terrorist threats; only very few are criminals. Most of them are ordinary people who just want a chance to live like anybody else.

So stupid (2, Funny)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 3 years ago | (#33778426)

Anyone with a SAM can see if a plane is right there! They don't need an iPhone app to tell them what they are looking at is a plane. Have they had issues with terrorists accidentally targeting endangered condors with missiles by mistake?

Re:So stupid (1)

f3rret (1776822) | more than 3 years ago | (#33778474)

Have they had issues with terrorists accidentally targeting endangered condors with missiles by mistake?

I don't think so. But I hope it shows up on YouTube when it does happen.

Re:So stupid (1)

Grey Ninja (739021) | more than 3 years ago | (#33778546)

If I were the person who made this app, I would be attempting to put together a viral video RIGHT NOW where that actually happens, and why people need my app.

somebody need some laxative bad (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33778436)

If you can take down an airliner at 30,000ft, you hardly need to know its final destination, or need somebody to tell you its altitude, ....

airports - where are they? (4, Funny)

jandoedel (1149947) | more than 3 years ago | (#33778444)

I hope those terrorists don't know about the locations of any airports. Rumour has it that lots of planes fly near them...

Re:airports - where are they? (1)

HawaiianToast (618430) | more than 3 years ago | (#33778624)

You're right, Google should blur all airports out and mask their names on their maps. If anyone tries to get directions to these locations, give the directions to the nearest DHS detention facility.

Here comes the stupid... (5, Insightful)

chaboud (231590) | more than 3 years ago | (#33778448)

I get this argument from idiot alarmists all the time:

"We can't allow for the last link of dissemination of information to the public at large to exist, but it's okay for the information to be available. We just need to make it *less* available."

This sort of argument appears to stem from one or many of a few beliefs:

1) Terrorists are too stupid to get this sort of information from less casual sources.
2) Of all of the speedbumps to becoming a terrorist, figuring out where the flights are was the thing that was holding people back.
3) They had no idea that we had this information available (this is a variant of 1),
4) It's okay to leave information we consider dangerous out in the open, as long as you can't get it without knowing the right URL (or, in this case, the right frequencies). This isn't quite what crypto nerds mean when they say "security through obscurity isn't security at all," but it's pretty relatable.

And to think, US Cyber command is under the impression that they don't need geeks. If this is what passes for an understanding of safety and security in our government, we're just doomed.

What about the satellite tracking apps? (1, Troll)

f3rret (1776822) | more than 3 years ago | (#33778462)

The App store has got a bunch of satellite tracking apps, couldn't those be used to aim an anti-satellite missiles and usher in a new age of SPACE TERRORISM!?

Stupid argument (2, Insightful)

spyfrog (552673) | more than 3 years ago | (#33778480)

This is a stupid argument because it is so extremely simple to figure out when to shoot down an aircraft with a SAM anyway.
You already know the approximate time when it will takeoff since that is public knowledge since the passengers needs to know.
Most airports has only one or two runways. You can easily figure out in which direction the plane is going to start (it will start at the same direction as the ones before it, probably into the wind).
Now you can simply put ourself outside the airport at the point where the plane will fly right over you at a low altitude off perhaps a couple off hundred yards. The guys that photos planes position them self correct every time with this knowledge.

The reality is that aircrafts is extremely exposed and easy to shoot down with SAMs since it is easy to get them during landing and takeoff and you can't fence off an area big enough to protect them.

Re:Stupid argument (1)

mjwalshe (1680392) | more than 3 years ago | (#33778620)

actualy a big passenger jets engine pods are designed to detach on catastrophic failures and missiles are going to home on the engines so a big jet might survive a single hit.

All ground to air missiles are self seeking (1)

assemblerex (1275164) | more than 3 years ago | (#33778496)

I fail to see how this would endanger a plane unless they have a german 88 from WWII hidden somewhere in new jersey.

encrypt tower to plane radio first (3, Insightful)

RichMan (8097) | more than 3 years ago | (#33778510)

tower: AC310 heavy drop to 30 thousand and proceed to outer marker on heading 31 you are clear for runway

Hm, I wonder where AC310 heavy is ?

Re:encrypt tower to plane radio first (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 3 years ago | (#33778680)

tower: AC310 heavy drop to 30 thousand and proceed to outer marker on heading 31 you are clear for runway

Hm, I wonder where AC310 heavy is ?

Ha ... excellent point. In fact, there's a small airport a couple of miles from me that has a restaurant just outside the perimeter, where you can watch small aircraft coming and going. Interestingly, at each table are small speakers where you can listen to the controller chatter.

According to the logic invoked by the arrogant fruitbaskets that are afraid of a goddamn iPhone app, that restaurant should be closed down as an "aid to terrorists."

What sort of risk? (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 3 years ago | (#33778512)

If you want to target a particular flight, this app might be of some assistance. But all a terrorist has to do is to sit under a busy flight path and wait for the next one.

Where I live (about 20 miles out from SeaTac) the approach pattern is low enough to pick off airplanes with low tech weaponry, like a rifle. Or a Canada Goose. The goose population on a nearby lake is dense enough that the general aviation aircraft try to stay higher (which is a whole other source of excitement, watching some guy in a Piper cub sightseeing, flying in circles ABOVE an incomming 747.

Heavy, man. (0, Offtopic)

dangitman (862676) | more than 3 years ago | (#33778518)

The program, sold for just 1.79 pounds in the online Apple store,

I think the most interesting part of this story is how they managed to write a piece of software that weighs so much. I think my modem would choke if I tried to force 1.79 pounds of data through it.

Has the world gone mad? (1)

Haedrian (1676506) | more than 3 years ago | (#33778534)

Threatens security?

I'm pretty sure that terrorists who have surface to air missiles handy don't need all this information. And I'm pretty sure that they could just as easily write their own programs which do the same thing, it doesn't take much computation to work out speed (with two images of which you know the time difference).

Ah well, at least there's a good excuse to reduce personal freedom now.

Ah, am i missing something? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33778542)

Why don't they just encrypt the broadcast of data and voilà...app useless and the world is safe for democracy once more...

Your fear is not mine (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33778562)

I'm so tired of the endless fear-mongering by the US govt, media, et al. If you choose to let fear control you - it will. Rise above it and move on.

That's what ADS-B is supposed to do. (5, Informative)

Animats (122034) | more than 3 years ago | (#33778588)

That's what ADS-B is supposed to do [faa.gov] - give anyone who wants it a picture of what's in nearby airspace. It may have been a mistake to implement that capability and mandate that the transmitters be installed on aircraft. But, with that done, bitching about people using the data is pointless.

An attacker could buy a general aviation ADS-B receiver [navworx.com] for $1495 and get the same data on an HP iPAQ. So this only protects against terrorists with very low budgets.

Homeland Security... (4, Funny)

hex0D (1890162) | more than 3 years ago | (#33778608)

...approved 'Heisenberg' version will only give either the position or the speed of the plane, but never both.

Should be ecrypted. These are whitehats. (1)

pizzach (1011925) | more than 3 years ago | (#33778614)

Why are these broadcasts not encrypted if they are potentially dangerous? People would not be better off not knowing that these are are not encrypted than sticking their heads in the grounds. This is no worse than someone not turning on security on their router. It's just plain silly. The finger should be pointed at the plains, not the iPhone app maker.

This reminds me... (1)

thestudio_bob (894258) | more than 3 years ago | (#33778618)

My guess, airlines are complaining about this. They've been sitting on this technology for awhile, but now someone created a cool little app that uses this technology and they are making a profit off it. Airlines are just pissed that they aren't getting a piece of the action.

So what do they do, they complain to the government and get them to outlaw the public from using this tech and shut down any possible competition. After a little while, start selling your own app and charge a premium for it.

Sound familiar? Do you remember "caller id"? Used to be you could just go to Radio Shack and puchase a little box you could hook up to your phone and you didn't have to pay the phone company a darned thing to use it. But then the tel-co's started complaining (or telling their paid for politicians to do so) and eventually put a stop to it. After that, they then turned around and started making this a paid "service", but it was crippled (To allow telemarketers, politicians, and basically anyone to block the caller ID).

Ahhh... the beauty of the free market. It's only free, after you bought yourself some politicians.

Ass backwards? (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 3 years ago | (#33778622)

We should be more concerned about PLANES finding the exact locations of BUILDINGS on the ground. 2001 was not about things crashing into planes, it was about PLANES divebombing things on the ground. A feat that is facilitated by Printed road maps, Google maps and Google earth more than THIS.

I think this is all a red herring for the real reason government doesn't want this app to exist. It gives the people too much power; from the ground, they can actually know what aircraft are above them, where they are going, etc. This is about wanting to keep as much information away from the public as possible.

Last I checked, the realistic situation wasn't Terrorists getting a hold of surface to air missiles. Or terrorists crashing into other airplanes. Terrorists have had no problems wreaking havoc if they ever get control of a plane... specific buildings on the ground are much easier, more dangerous, stationary targets.

If they wanted to target other planes, they could usually just use the on-board radar or transponder signals of other planes to get precise info. Instead... this is a chance for some bureaucrats who are really doing nothing to try to justify their existence, by complaining about other people's technology. If they were actually doing their job, it would be no concern that anyone could know the position and probable course of any other plane with this tracking system. Because terrorists are effectively denied the ability to fly or to gain control of aircraft.

If terrorists managed to obtain s-to-air missiles, they don't need a frickin' iPhone app to tell them the position and heading of a plane. Two other technologies they can use: Radar, or home-brewed electronics that can do the same thing the iPhone app can, but more precisely, and actually wired up to their targetting system.

The iPhone is like a black box... it is unlikely they can wire that up into their targetting system without some serious expertise and hacking work

If a bloody simple iPhone app is able to tap into the tracking system, then it reasons (just as easily) terrorists can tap into the tracking system, and without the aid of the iPhone app... terrorists who can afford surface-to-air missiles and the expertise required to operate them, can doubtlessly find the expertise needed to ID and track targets.

Oopsy Daisy (1)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 3 years ago | (#33778640)

The firm behind the app, Pinkfroot, uses a network of aircraft enthusiasts in Britain and abroad, who are equipped with ADS-B receivers costing around 200 pounds to intercept the information from aircraft and send it to a central
database.

That's re-transmitting... I think the FCC frowns on that.

Stupid paranoid bastards (1)

shoehornjob (1632387) | more than 3 years ago | (#33778646)

OMG what good does it do a terrorist if the plane is already in the air. Have we had any attacks on airplanes using a surface to air missile? If they wanted to attack a plane could they not just check the internet for departure and arrival times. Shit like this just illustrates how the terrorists have won because we spend too much time chasing our tails for stuff that's not important.

step 4 ... (4, Insightful)

thrillseeker (518224) | more than 3 years ago | (#33778648)

1. Write sourceless article about interesting software labeled by unnamed 'security experts' as 'a serious security threat'
2. Mention that the Department of Homeland Security also thinks about security threats
3. Get article mentioned on Slashdot where people still don't RTFM in any detail, but do like to shit bricks that mention DHS in any context
4. Get traffic to ad-driven site

Another Overreaction (1)

SwashbucklingCowboy (727629) | more than 3 years ago | (#33778662)

Yet another overreaction by the paranoid. Personally, I'm sick and tired of these paranoid "security" people trying to take away every little piece of information that some terrorist could conceivably use. Living in a free society entails a certain amount of risk. Deal with it.

Stupid. (1, Troll)

jcr (53032) | more than 3 years ago | (#33778676)

Any other plane would already have access to that information from the air traffic control system. An iPhone app isn't going to be the thing that enables a suicidal terrorist to succeed.

-jcr

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