The app is called PlaneSploit, and it's every bit as scary as you might think. A man by the name of Hugo Teso showed up at this year's Hack In The Box conference in Amsterdam where he demoed a working version of the app. Teso is a security consultant, as well as a trained pilot; the kind of guy who just might be telling the truth when he says that he can make a commercial airliner "dance to his tune."
The app works by locating planes in flight via radio communication with air traffic controllers on the ground. PlaneSploit then hijacks communication with the airplane, sending erroneous information and messages to the cockpit via a second communication system — the Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS).
Thankfully, Teso doesn't seem to have any plans of sharing the app. PlaneSploit is simply a proof-of-concept that proves much more than its own functionality. After all, if hijackers no longer need be aboard airplanes to take over them, then the Transportation Security Administration is going to need a whole new game plan. Here's hoping this exploit is quashed well before anyone attempts to take control of an airliner with it.