Malware Implicated in Plane Crash

The maintenance system had been infected with a Trojan application.

By Kara Reeder | Posted Aug 24, 2010
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Malware may have contributed to the crash of Spanair flight 5022 in Madrid two years ago, reports InformationWeek.

Spanish authorities blame the crash on pilot error, saying the pilots failed to extend the MD-80 airplane's takeoff flaps and slats. However, a warning alarm that ensures that pilots don't leave the flaps and slats retracted failed to sound because the maintenance system had been infected with a Trojan application.

In a blog post, Rick Wanner of the SANS Internet Storm Center, writes:

it seems clear to me that this accident was caused by the failure of a number of controls leading to a disastrous outcome. Clearly the SpanAir diagnostic system (a detective control) designed to detect anomalies in the airliners system failed, possibly due to a Trojan.

Still, the pilots are not free from blame. Wanner says:

the pilots bypassed part of their pre-takeoff checklist, leaving the flaps and slats in a position not recommended for takeoff.

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