What happens when a hacker gets bored and curious about airplane tracking systems? In the case of Brad “RenderMan” Haines, aka @ihackedwhat, a very interesting Def Con 20 presentation happened called “Hacker + Airplanes = No Good Can Come Of This.”
When Haines first started talking about using apps to find airplanes and track flights, my mind flashed to Tom Clancy who mentioned a smartphone app like Plane Finder being used by terrorists in his novel Against All Enemies. But Haines was talking reality and not fiction about how easy it is for anyone to track planes in near real time with Plane Finder, FlightRadar, FlightAware and RadarVirtuel. Haines talked about the NextGen Air Traffic Control (ATC) and those apps which use Automated Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) which will be mandatory in the United States by 2020 and in Europe by 2030. While you are reading this, consider that ADS-B equipped planes are flying overhead right now.