President Biden has ordered Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg to investigate the root cause of the FAA System Outage on Wednesday, which grounded all flights in the USA for the first time since the 9/11 attacks in 2001. While early indicators suggest hacking was not at play, Buttigieg has not ruled out that possibility.
Buttigieg Promises Full Investigation Of FAA System Outage, Does Not Eliminate Possibility Of Hacking
Travelers across the United States were delayed on Wednesday after a key FAA system went down in the middle of the night and could not be restored until mid-morning. A ripple of flight delays and later flight cancellations acrosss the nation disrupted travel for millions.
The FAA’s “Notice to Air Missions system,” according to the FAA, alerts pilots about closed runways, equipment outages, and other potential hazards along a flight route or at a location that could affect the flight.
Speaking to reporters during the FAA ground stop, Biden noted that he had been in touch with Buttigieg and instructed him and the Department of Transpiration to investigate what went wrong:
“I told them to report directly to me when they find out. Aircraft can still land safely, just not take off right now. They don’t know what the cause of it is, they expect in a couple of hours they’ll have a good sense of what caused it and will respond at that time.”
Later, Buttigieg issued his own brief statement downplaying rumors that hacking was at play:
“At my direction, FAA is continuing its system review. Preliminary work has traced the issue to a damaged database file, with no evidence of a cyber attack. FAA will continue its work to further pinpoint the sources of this issue and steps to prevent it from occurring again.”
But Is It Hacking?
Isn’t it interesting that hours after the US system went down, a similar system in Canada also went down?
NAV CANADA’S Canadian NOTAM system was restored, with the agency saying it “does not believe” the outage was “related to the FAA outage.”
NAV CANADA continues to investigate the cause of the outage; at this time, we do not believe it to be related to the FAA outage experienced earlier today. https://t.co/GnxLSFLU38
— NAV CANADA (@navcanada) January 11, 2023
Without making any assumptions at all, is it so unreasonable to wonder whether three desperate enemies of the USA (and Canada), Iran, North Korea and Russia, had anything to do with this? All three are very much into hacking.
Of course, the link between these two incidents could be as simple as a shared database or other resources. On the other hand, when asked about hacking Buttigieg later told CNN, “We’re not going to rule that out until we have a clear understanding.”
As important as that is, perhaps the bigger question we should be asking is what level of confidence officials have that this issue will not soon repeat itself.
Biden has tasked Buttigieg with investigating the root cause of the FAA System Outage on Wednesday. While hacking is not thought to be the culprit, the fact that a similar incident occurred in Canada and Canadian authorities downplay any link to the FAA outage makes you wonder, doesn’t it? Whatever the root cause, U.S. officials must labor to ensure safeguards are in place such that a repeat performance will not occur.
image: @pete.buttigieg / Instagram