Brevard County woman accused of hacking into flight safety software

Lauren Lide, 25, of Palm Bay, is out of jail on bond.  She is charged with accessing an electronic device and modifying data without authority. 

Investigators say Lauren Lide used to work at Melbourne Flight Training as a flight operations manager.  She quit in November 2019, the same day her father got fired from his job at the same company, according to her arrest affidavit. 

Melbourne Airport Police say Lauren Lide used her old boss's login information to wipe out critical aircraft and safety data on their fleet on January 11, 2020. 

Earlier this week, the state attorney’s office filed charges and the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office arrested Lauren Lide on a warrant. 

"This should provide a wake-up call to people using all different kinds of systems. And what you do if someone leaves how do you change and protect your information, redundancies to make sure this doesn’t occur," said Captain Shem Malmquist.  

He is a visiting professor at the Florida Institute of Technology.  He is also a Boeing 777 pilot and lead safety and accident investigator.  

"This isn’t playing video games. This is the real thing," Malmquist said. 

According to the police report, "There were a total of 44 pages of Flight Circle data records/logged actions recorded during the 22 minute period of intrusion. 325 Action orders changed….Actions undertaken during this time period of unauthorized entry endangered human life, as aircraft which may have been unsafe to fly were purposely made ‘airworthy."

"All of a sudden if someone takes the aircraft out to fly, is there going to be a problem? And, then you’re going to have to rely on the reliance of the pilots themselves to be able to capture that kind of issue and not let it propagate into an accident," Malmquist said.  

He said someone working in the aeronautical industry knows this.

Melbourne Airport Police used digital records to see where Lauren Lide’s old boss’s user login was used to get into their flight management software.  Through digital subpoenas, they were able to access servers that showed his login was used from the Lide’s home the day the data changes were made to Melbourne Flight Training’s software.  Police also say Lauren Lide used her old boss’s software from a friend’s house. 

The motive, according to police, is that Lide was angry that her father had been fired from the company and she felt that she had been mistreated too. 

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