Washington, DCThe 2008 airplane crash of Spanair flight 5022 could have been caused by malware, which infected a central computer system used to monitor technical problems in the aircraft, according to a report by the Spanish newspaper El Pais. The airline also believes malware was to blame.
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The malware has been identified as a Trojan Horse that could have entered the computer through third party devices such as USB sticks, or through a remote VPN connection that may not have the same protection as a computer within the enterprise network, according to Jamz Yaneeza, head threat researcher at Trend Micro. USB sticks were also responsible for the International Space Station virus infection in 2008. TechNews Daily said it could also have been infected simply by visiting "a malicious website with an insecure browser like Internet Explorer 6".
An early investigation by the US National Transportation Safety Board revealed that the plane had taken off with its slats and flaps retracted, and that there was no audible alarm due to a power failure with the takeoff warning system.
"Any computer that is connected to a network is vulnerable to a malware infection," said O. Sami Saydjari, president of Cyber Defense Agency, as told by TechNewsDaily. "Standards have not been set to protect critical infrastructure." According to Saydjari, an "incident" like this could happen again, and most likely will.
Flight 5022 killed 154 people and left only 18 survivors.