Now, a new angle to the speculations has been added by a British anti-terror expert Dr Sally Leivesley who said that the plane may have been deviated strategically from its path by hacking through its system with a mobile phone. "A stream of malicious codes is enough for overriding the aircraft's security software," she further added.
She said,"It might well be the world's first cyber hijack."
She also said that it was possible to manipulate the speed, altitude and direction by sending radio signals to its flight management system. And who could be doing this? She answered: "criminal gangs, terrorists or a foreign power".
Security agencies have revealed that there were strong evidences of a hijack, but this theory has given a fresh perspective to the mishap. Back in Malaysia, anti-terror experts have shifted their focus to the pilot and his first officer and the crew members for possible terror links.
Giving room for more imagination, Leivesley said:
"There appears to be an element of planning from someone with a very sophisticated systems engineering understanding. This is a very early version of what I would call a smart plane, a fly-by-wire aircraft controlled by electronic signals. It is looking more and more likely that the control of some systems was taken over in a deceptive manner, either manually, so someone sitting in a seat overriding the autopilot, or via a remote device turning off or overwhelming the systems. A mobile phone could have been used to do so or a USB stick. When the plane is air-side, you can insert a set of commands and codes that may initiate, on signal, a set of processes."
She also remembered that the hacking threat was discussed at a science conference last year in China by a German security expert Hugo Teso.
"It is possible for hackers, be they part of organised crime or with government backgrounds, to get into the main computer network of the plane through the inflight, onboard entertainment system. If you have got any connections whatsoever between the computing systems, you can jump across and you can get into the flight critical system. To really protect your computer systems, you do not let anything connect with them and you would keep the inflight systems totally in their own loop so nothing whatsoever connects. There are now a number of ways, however, in which the gap between those systems and a handheld device like a mobile phone can be overcome."
The routes say it all
Confirming that the deviation was "deliberate" action by someone on board, he said that the plane's last communication could be from two possible corridors.
The arc northwards goes to Thailand, leading to central Asian countries Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan. This gives rise to speculations that it may have been hijacked with the intention of flying it to Asia.
The northern route too would have taken the plane to areas that are ridden with extremist Islamic groups and unstable government. However, this route has a strong US military surveillance, which could have caught them instantly.
If we consider that the above-mentioned hypothesis is a fact, how could an airplane fuelled to fly for a 6-hr flight to Beijing continue to glide over the vast expanse of the Indian Ocean, with an average depth of 12,762 ft, without diving in?