Melbourne man Paul Sant has been charged with unauthorised broadcasting over to pilots over radio bands restricted to aviation users, causing one plane to abort a landing to Tullamarine Airport.

Sant, 19, is alleged to have placed 16 separate transmissions to pilots at Tullamarine and Avalon airports between 5 September and 3 November.

He faces up to a maximum 20 years jail.

The Rockbank man and one-time employee of airline Virgin Australia has been charged with four counts of endangering the safety of aircraft and one count of interference likely to endanger safety.

Media report Sant's lawyer told the court he has been diagnosed with autism and depression without medication.

Australian Federal Police (AFP) confirmed to Vulture South Sant is not alleged to have "hacked" any aviation system, contrary to reports, but merely used broadcasting equipment to make transmissions to pilots in contravention of aviation security laws.

Aviation transmission kit on eBay

Aviation transmission kit on eBay.

Aviation transmission gear capable of communicating with pilots can be bought online for around AU$ 200.

Enthusiasts regularly tune into the broadcasts which are sent unencrypted meaning no hacking is required to make transmissions.

The AFP’s crime operations head acting assistant commissioner Chris Sheehan says aviation security laws are "robust".

“The current security measures in place for the airline industry are robust, and the traveling public should be reassured we are treating this matter appropriately,” Sheehan says.

“These incidents were thoroughly investigated by the AFP with the technical support of Airservices and the Australian Communications and Media Authority. ®

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The Register - Security

When is the best time to deliver a security message?

A group of researchers from Brigham Young University has been tracking users’ neural activity while they are using a computer, and have discovered that security warnings are heeded more if they don’t pop-up right in the middle of a task or action that requires the users’ attention.

delivering security messages

Humans are generally bad at multitasking, and they will ignore such messages in most cases when they are watching a video, typing, or inputing a confirmation code, i.e. when we can’t attend to the message without it affecting the quality of our first task or give enough attention to it.

The best moments to spring a security warning is when the user waits for a web page to load or a file to be downloaded/processed, switches to another site, or after he or she is done watching a video.

Anybody who has ever used a computer and ignored their fair share of security messages will not be surprised by the results of this study.

But it is surprising that the software industry hasn’t already made it so that all security messages that don’t require immediate attention are shown when a task is started, finished, or the user is waiting for a task to complete.

While it might seem that this study was a waste of time that proves something we all know, it will have an impact on our daily lives – or, more specifically, on the lives of Google Chrome users.

The research was performed in collaboration with Google Chrome security engineers, and its results convinced them to tweak the timing of the security messages in future versions of the Chrome Cleanup Tool.

Hopefully, other software makers will follow. With the human element consistently being the weakest point of the security chain, we need all the help we can get to make the right choices.

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