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From: TimF3/26/2018 6:48:22 PM
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It's Incredibly Easy to Tamper with Someone's Flight Plan, Anywhere on the Globe
Hackers can gain access to and manipulate flight information because of aging legacy systems.

It's easier than many people realize to modify someone else's flight booking, or cancel their flight altogether, because airlines rely on old, unsecured systems for processing customers' travel plans, researchers will explain at the Chaos Communication Congress hacking festival on Tuesday. The issues predominantly center around the lack of any meaningful authentication for customers requesting their flight information.

The issues highlight how a decades-old system is still in constant, heavy use, despite being susceptible to fairly simple attacks and with no clear means for a solution.

"Whenever you take a trip, you are in one or more of these systems," security researcher Karsten Nohl told Motherboard in a phone call ahead of his and co-researcher Nemanja Nikodijevic's talk.

Specifically, the pair have researched so-called Global Distribution Systems (GDS). These are essentially the back-end used by travel agents and airlines to handle the allocation of tickets.

When someone pays for a flight, the airline or travel agent probably gives them a six digit code. Punching this and their last name into different websites, such as that of the airline, allows flyers to then see their flight information, and in turn they can change their trip or otherwise rearrange their booking.

But one issue is that these codes are incredibly easy for a computer to quickly churn out, meaning a bot could simply cycle through various options until it lands on a legitimate code for a corresponding surname. Several of the GDSs don't use any sort of rate limiting system—only allowing a certain number of requests per minute or second—so the researchers were able to swiftly process millions of possible combinations automatically.

The codes don't contain ones or zeros to avoid confusion with I or O, Nohl says—they only use upper case letters and no special characters too. On top of that, in two out of the three larger GDSs, the numbers increase sequentially, Nohl explained. This means a hacker can predict when a particular set of numbers are more likely to be used at a certain time of day, or day of the week, in turn making it much more likely that they will successfully match a six digit code with the correct last name, and gain access to flight information.

The codes themselves can also be easily found on people's' luggage tags or potentially on a boarding pass, as others have previously found.

Armed with these techniques, a hacker might be able to track someone, finding out where they're flying to and from. Working with the German TV station ARD, the researchers were able to change the flight booking of a reporter, putting him on the same flight as, and in an adjacent seat to, a German politician.

"We were able to try a couple million for a given last name, and that was enough to find this German senator," Nohl told Motherboard.

There is also the potential for financially-driven fraud too. Hackers could add a frequent flyer account to expensive long haul flights, or perhaps cancel a trip, receive a coupon from the airline, and then use that to book another flight, Nohl claimed.

Nohl told Motherboard that specific companies have said they will employ measures such as rate limiting to curb just how easy it is to discover flyer's six digit codes. But that still leaves a wealth of interconnected systems that were never really designed with the internet in mind, and the threat that it would pose.

"Despite responsible disclosure, which we are doing right now, there doesn't seem to be a clear path to a really better system yet," Nohl said.

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From: TimF6/13/2018 10:03:51 PM
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Gatwick drone incident - 2 July

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From: TimF7/6/2018 1:13:44 PM
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The Economics of Airline Class

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From: cruisingtime7/16/2018 6:43:34 AM
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Hi community!
I'm looking for tips!
In September I'll go cruising in Croatia, starting my trip from Sibenik, and I've booked an amazing sailboat with Filovent, an online rental boat agency.
I was thinking about cruise along Kornati Islands, and then sail southward along Split, Brac Island, Korcula and Makarska.
Do you know some alternative tours?
Many thanks!

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From: TimF7/17/2018 8:55:40 AM
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10 Beautiful Places in the World That Actually Kinda Suck

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From: Neeka7/30/2018 2:21:53 PM
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My husband and I are going to Boston next Spring and we have decided to use Air BnB for lodging. Neither one of us have a clue about that city, but we want to stay near the downtown area so we can do the Freedom Trail etc. (also want to go to Bunker Hill and realize we'll need transportation for that.)

Air bnb has these 4 neighborhoods avail, and we were wondering if someone can tell us which one is closest to the downtown corridor and the Freedom Trail?

These are the areas listed on the Air BnB website.


South End

West Roxbury


Hyde Park

Theater District

Chestnut Hill



South Boston

Financial District

Coolidge Corner


East Boston

Downtown Crossing


Leather District


Government Center



Back Bay




West End

Beacon Hill


North End




Jamaica Plain

Harvard Square




Mission Hill



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From: TimF8/12/2018 7:14:36 PM
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Why are the Jumbo-jets disappearing?

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From: TimF9/7/2018 8:10:39 PM
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Plane passengers stuck for the night get 40 pizzas from their captain

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From: TimF9/20/2018 9:01:17 PM
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Can Planes Fly Through Thunderstorms and Hurricanes?
by Alberto Riva
4 hours ago

Whenever a large storm front develops somewhere in the world, air travel gets a bit more complicated than usual. Air routes are closed, holding patterns are established, flights get delayed and some are unfortunately cancelled. Thunderstorms present a massive problem if they are standing between you are your destination, even if the area they affect is relatively small.

Hurricanes, however, are a beast of a whole other nature. Hurricanes are massive, spanning hundreds or thousands of miles and affecting flights on a regional scale. While a thunderstorm may develop and move through an area quickly, the effects of a hurricane linger for days. Airports directly affected by a hurricane will close for obvious reasons, often for days. Airport closures due to hunderstorms tend to be much shorter.

But what happens to all the flights that need to travel through a thunderstorm or a hurricane? First, airlines treat thunderstorms differently from hurricanes for flight-planning purposes.

The structure of a thunderstorm is drastically different from that of a hurricane. Thunderstorms and hurricanes are both convective in nature, but in different ways. Thunderstorms create massive cloud structures with tops that can reach over 60,000 feet, well above the cruising altitude of commercial airplanes, while hurricanes typically do not. Using their onboard weather radar or guidance from air traffic controllers, pilots will always navigate around thunderstorms — or simply turn around.

Hurricanes, however, are not always as disruptive to flights as a thunderstorm can be. “As far as aviation goes, most tropical systems and hurricanes are, generally, not as tall as traditional thunderstorms,” said meteorologist and pilot James Aydelott. “The tallest convection in a tropical cyclone is usually clustered around the central core of rotation, whether that’s just a low pressure, or in a hurricane, an eye,” he explained. This enables airlines to file flight plans that actually operate over parts of a hurricane.

Lightning through the window of a Malaysia Airlines Airbus A330 over Kuala Lumpur in 2010. Photo by SAEED KHAN/AFP/Getty Images

For obvious reasons, no commercial aircraft is ever going to penetrate the eyewall of a hurricane. We leave that distinct honor to the brave men and women on board hurricane-hunter aircraft of the US Air Force and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. As you get further away from the eye of the hurricane, though, flight conditions become more and more manageable. Unlike with many thunderstorms, flights can safely navigate over the top of a hurricane or tropical storm with little impact.

“Each storm is different, but down low, near the eye, where the C-130 and P-3 ‘Hurricane Hunter’ flights fly, there is often turbulence,” said Aydelott. “High above, from all accounts I’ve seen, the ride is smooth. As far as flying goes, there should be no issues flying above a hurricane in an aircraft equipped to monitor radar echo tops.”

While Hurricane Florence was raging over the mid-Atlantic coast of the US, one particular flight caught the attention of aviation watchers. An Allegiant MD-80 operating between Bangor, Maine, and Orlando, Florida, took a shortcut over the top of the hurricane while all other flights went around the edges. This raised some eyebrows, but it was perfectly safe.

“Allegiant Airlines 2237 flew well above Hurricane Florence on Friday, September 14, and was not affected by the storm,” said Federal Aviation Administration spokesperson Paul Takemoto. “All air carrier flights file flight plans, and receive air traffic control service for the entire flight. Air traffic controllers direct flights around or above severe weather. They do not direct flights through severe storms.”

A screenshot from FlightAware of the Allegiant flight going over Hurricane Florence at 34,000 feet.

While flights above hurricanes can be perfectly safe, they do require a bit of extra planning and attention to detail. “If you needed a diversion for maintenance or medical, your options are a bit more limited, but from a cruise altitude, you have a lot of airports even further on the storm’s fringe to divert toward,” said Aydelott. While many flights will simply opt to travel around the storm, doing so is not actually required.

As weather predicting and sensing technology improves over time, and as pilots are able to receive more and more real-time weather data while in flight, navigating around and over storms can become more commonplace. For now, most flights will be routed around hurricanes while a few will opt to take a bit of a shortcut right over the top.

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To: TimF who wrote (1458)9/21/2018 5:53:10 AM
From: S. maltophilia
   of 1495
We flew through the edge (or so we were told) of a typhoon over the western Pacific once. About half an hour of rather severe turbulence. I never knew a 747's wings were so flexible, flapping what seemed like at least a couple yards at the tips, and i spent a lot of time mentally reviewing everything I knew about metal fatigue.....

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