Tag Archives: Boeing

Microsoft Invests in STEM for Young Black Girls

Kimberly Bryant

Microsoft, the world’s biggest maker of computer software, announced a partnership with Black Girls Code and the Technology Access Foundation to bring STEM education to students of color. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella announced the $500,000 partnership.  (STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and math.)

Black Girls Code provides programming and technology education to young and pre-teen girls of color. The curriculum is provided through clubs  and taught by women engineers of color. BGC can be found in 13 cities across the U.S. and, with the funding from Microsoft, will launch their 14th chapter in Seattle.

Founder of Black Girls Code, Kimberly Bryant, explains her mission;  “By launching Black Girls Code, I hope to provide young and pre-teen girls of color opportunities to learn in-demand skills in technology and computer programming at a time when they are naturally thinking about what they want to be when they grow up.”

Trish Millines Dziko

  Technology Access Foundation provides STEMbyTAF. Former Microsoft executive Trish Millines Dziko founded STEMbyTAF in 1997. The program is an out-of-school program that teaches technology skills, provides internships and college prep to students of color in the Seattle area.

Since its launch TAF has opened its own school and become a model for creating learning environments that erase racial disparity in academic achievement. STEMbyTAF is focused on duplicating their successful formula in other schools. TAF has partnerships with Amazon, Comcast, Expedia, Google and Boeing.

Black Girls Code also has partnerships with several of Silicon Valley’s top technology companies including Google, Oracle, Adobe, Verizon and AT&T.


First African-American Joins Apple’s Board

James Bell Apple

James A. Bell

James A. Bell, a 38 year veteran of aerospace giant Boeing, will be joining Apple’s Board of Directors as its first African-American Member.

Bell comes to Apple with an impressive resume that includes his nearly four decades at Boeing where he retired as the company’s chief financial officer. Bell was also the highest ranking  African-American in Boeing history and served as the interim CEO in 2005. Bell’s resume includes board membership at JPMorgan Chase, Dow Chemical and CDW. He is also a trustee at Chicago’s Rush University Medical Center.

In a statement Bell said, “I am an avid user of Apple products and have a tremendous respect for the company’s ability to innovate. I am delighted to join Apple’s board.”

Apple reported it is making progress hiring more women and minorities to the company. It’s been well documented that Silicon Valley has a serious diversity problem. Apple has hired 65 percent more women, 50 percent more African-Americans and 66 percent more Latinos in the past 12 months. The data was released by Apple’s Diversity Report. Bell’s hiring will improve diversity at the company’s highest level.

Apple CEO Tim Cook said, “ James brings a wealth of global financial  and industrial experience from his successful career at Boeing as corporate president and CFO. I am thrilled to welcome him to Apple’s board of directors.”

Researcher Hacks United Airlines Flight

united_continental_logo_detWould you feel safe if you knew that it’s possible to take control of an airliner with laptop computer or maybe just a smartphone app? That maybe exactly what has happened.

According to reports a security researcher was able to commandeer a United Airlines flight control system during a scheduled flight. A warrant application was filed last month for Chris Roberts a security researcher who was was banned from all United Airlines flights after tweeting a joke about exploiting flight control vulnerabilities while on a plane. Upon landing in Syracuse, New York, FBI agents escorted Roberts off the flight and confiscated his MacBook Pro and several thumb drives. FBI officials told Roberts a warrant to search the devices was pending, and filed a warrant application two days later.

This is not the first time Roberts has tampered with a plane in flight. He met with FBI officials in February of this year to discuss vulnerabilities with In Flight Entertainment (IFE) systems. Roberts told agents he was able to exploit vulnerabilities in the IFE systems 15 to 20 times from 2011 to 2014.  According to Roberts its possible to gain physical access to the IFE system through the Seat Electronic Box (SEB) located under seats containing video monitors, according to the FBI affidavit. Roberts was able to connect his laptop to the IFE system, allowing him to overwrite code on the aircraft’s Thrust Management Computer and issue flight commands from his seat.

According to the warrant application Roberts issued the “CLB” or climb command during an actual flight with real passengers. The command caused one of the engines to climb “resulting in a lateral or sideways movement” of the aircraft. Roberts denied the allegations telling Wired magazine that although he was capable of hacking into the IFE system, he never actually commandeered the flight. Roberts claimed he caused a plane to climb during flight, but only during a simulated test. On Twitter, Roberts claims much of the affidavit takes things he said out of context.

FBI agents conducted a search of the plane after the flight discovering SEBs under two of the aircraft’s seats which “showed signs of tampering.” Roberts denied tampering with the equipment saying “Nope I did not. That I’m happy to say and I’ll stand from the top of the tallest tower and yell that one.”

“We believe that Roberts had the ability and the willingness to use the equipment with him to access or attempt to access the IFE and possibly the flight control systems on any aircraft equipped with an IFE system, and that it would endanger public safety,” the affidavit reads.

Aircraft manufacturer Boeing said its entertainment systems are “isolated from flight and navigation systems.”

The company  declined to discuss its planes’ design features for security reasons saying; “It is worth noting that Boeing airplanes have more than one navigational system available to pilots. No changes to the flight plans loaded into the airplane systems can take place without pilot review and approval. In addition, other systems, multiple security measures, and flight deck operating procedures help ensure safe and secure airplane operations.”

Airbus has not addressed the incident but has stated before it has security measures, such as firewalls, that restrict access and the company “constantly assesses and revisits the system architecture” to make sure planes are safe.

Roberts is the co-founder of One World Labs which has lost investors as a result of the incident.   Roberts has not yet been charged with a crime.

Breaking it Down

This sh*t ain’t funny no more. What this man did, and has admitted to, is pure terrorism. He admitted to tampering with aircraft 15-20 times between 2011 and 2015. But is still walking around free. Why? Let me say this;  his actions could have had unforeseen consequences such as the destruction of an aircraft in flight. This man has only three possible reasons for tampering with an aircraft in flight. First he intended to do some harm which I pray I am wrong. Or second he was trying to show the airlines that they are vulnerable to this form of attack which is a good thing done the wrong way. Or third he is seeking publicity for his start up company. The common thread to all of these reasons is that all should land him in prison. Keep in mind that Malaysian Airline Flight 370 is still missing.


United Airlines Launches Half-Ass Bug Bounty



United airlines no doubt has Sometimes the best intentions are only half the job. United Airlines launched a bug bounty to find holes in its computer systems. The idea is to get well meaning security researchers and hackers to find the security flaws in their system before the evil hackers do. The reward for finding the flaws could be as much as one million frequent flyer miles. United Airlines is joining a growing number of companies offering rewards for reports of security vulnerabilities.

United produced a list of systems eligible for the reward. They encourage security researchers and hackers to attack the following websites, United.com, beta.united.com and mobile.united.com; the United app; and other third-party applications loaded by united.com or other online properties. All these systems sell tickets and protect customer and company data. But not your life.

Researchers and hackers won’t make any money on the deal. United is only offering award miles for finding the vulnerabilities. For small flaws they offer as much as 50,000 miles up to one million miles for major ones. United, being United, requires participants be members of, or join, their MileagePlus loyalty program to collect.

Here’s the the problem; researchers and hackers hunting for the bugs cannot test aircraft or aircraft systems, including inflight entertainment and Wi-Fi, or conduct vulnerability scans of United servers.

Hopefully United’s position is not that it would not consider such vulnerabilities as being serious, but rather they are loath to having researchers attempting to find flaws in a plane that’s flying at 30,000 ft,” wrote Graham Cluley, an independent security consultant, in a blog post.


Breaking It Down

Someone should tell United Airlines this is a half-ass attempt to show they are pro-active in protecting their systems. But is certainly not of any comfort to the people who are sitting in the seats. United could have scored a major public relations coup by stating they had employed researchers to secure their planes against cyber attack or in-flight hacking. Instead it appears that they have decided to protect the systems that generate profits and not lives. Sad. Maybe United has a plan or action in place to do this. I don’t know so I can’t say they don’t. But it would be re-assuring to passengers if they did talk about it. Aviation security spreads the responsibility around to everyone including the passengers. So if you see something say something. United is not taking their responsibility seriously. They aren’t even dishing out any cash. Instead they are offering frequent flyer miles. In the mean time Malaysian Flight 370 is still missing.