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A novel attack method has been disclosed against a crucial piece of technology called time-triggered ethernet (TTE) that’s used in safety-critical infrastructure, potentially causing the failure of systems powering spacecraft and aircraft.

Dubbed PCspooF by a group of academics and researchers from the University of Michigan, the University of Pennsylvania, and the NASA Johnson Space Centre, the technique is designed to break TTE’s security guarantees and induce TTE devices to lose synchronization for up to a second, a behaviour that can even lead to uncontrolled manoeuvres in spaceflight missions and threaten crew safety.

TTE is one among the networking technologies that’s part of what’s called a mixed-criticality network wherein traffic with different timing and faults tolerance requirements coexist in the same physical network. This means that both critical devices, which, say, enable vehicle control, and non-critical devices, which are used for monitoring and data collection, share the same network.

An obvious advantage to this approach is the fact that there are lesser weight and power requirements as well as lower development and time costs stemming as a result of relying on just one technology. But this also comes with drawbacks of its own.

PCSpoof Vulnerability

images from Hacker News