Yes, Mr. Bond, it is news to me and many others, though it is not surprising. My point is that it gives ideas to many who may not have been familiar with this method. Maybe there were a hundred people inclined to use such techniques to cause harm. Now there might be a thousand. People like me don't need to know about such things. A story like this only serves up a dish of paranoia to the general public, just another reason to stay off an airplane. And for those who would use it for malfeasance, it serves as a "how to" story. Everyone who needs to know about this type of scheme already knows about it, whether their motives are good or bad. It does no good to summarize it in the paper. I don't see the point. The media have a longstanding tradition of being in the scare business.
The media is in the business to make money. Hype sells. People pay to go to horror movies...why not to ride on "doomed" airliners? Burglars have had this technology for years. What the article described is just a ramped up version of the codescanners used to grab garage door opener and car alarm codes.
I wouldn't worry about this article. First of all, this information on cracking wireless networks is already freely available. It's even published right on AT&T Labs website. The wide distribution of information about how networks are compromised allows the network administrators to prevent attacks.
Secondly, I'll bet this guy in the article is just driving around and detecting the presence of a wireless network. This is a long way from breaking into one. I won't go into the details, but even if you break into the wireless network, that's only like tapping into the cable of a traditional network. There would still be (hopefully) several layers of security to go through before one could cause harm. Also, it would take quite a bit on time to crack one of these networks, during this length on time the intruder would probably be noticed.
A greater risk would be from someone who already has access to the network, such as a ticket agent or gate agent.
This article would be the aviation equivalent of an article that said, "To fly a jetliner use the yoke to steer and the throttles to speed up and slow down." Some not in the aviation industry might say that the article could give terrorists the ideas and tools needed to fly airplanes. However, a pilot two things. First, it's freely available information, and secondly, there is more to it then that. The same thing goes for cracking computer networks.
I think the author was trying to put a 9/11 "spin" on an article about wireless network security. I've read the "pringles can" story before this guy was trying to cover a different angle, I could only about half his article before I became bored with it.
Considering I'm perhaps the least technical and potentially least informed member of this board, the fact that you find my knowledge staggering or unusual speaks volumes about your own ignorance. Most people know that scanners regularly pick up cell phone conversations and that any electronic communication is easily picked apart.
Considering that those bent on actually exploiting this information are going to take the trouble to get informed, don't worry too much. Everything you want to know, and more, is allready available right on the net, from explosive formulas to how to pick locks, to you-name-it. Don't get too excited about a few lines in a public paper. There was nothing remotely classified or surprising about this. If it is surprising, don't mouth it about; it only makes you look extremely ignorant (sort of like watching the TV today, and saying, "Wow! Look! We have troops in Afghanistan? When did that happen?").
This has been common knowledge for years. You're probably also not aware that your hard drive can be scanned and recorded when you're on-line, or that all your electronic communications are easily intercepted and recorded, and that it's frequently done without warrant with the understanding that the material isn't for use in court. Welcome to reality.
Can flight information be rapidly located and recorded? You bet. So can just about anything else. Big surprise? Hope not. The real money in security now is intelligence and electronics...gaurds with guns and scanners are only the face the public sees. It works both ways. This isn't new, not for many years.
Does such an article touching on public knowledge undermine public confidence? Certainly far less than airbusses breaking apart, and airlines flying 737's with known rudder anomolies for a decade, with no fix and no answer. I really don't see the decay of the industry based on such an article. In fact, I don't see a need to give it a second thought. Look for weaknesses in order to make them strengths. If you just found you have a weakness in this area, don't complain that it's scary and that you don't need to know about it; don't bury your head in the sand. It won't go away. Get informed. Learn about it. Learn that identify theft is just as much alive and well on the net as it is by stealing your wallet. Protect yourself, and survive. Good luck!!