Security has always been the number one priority for all airlines.
Today with enhanced technology, airlines can improve the connectivity of their flight operations and air traffic systems to achieve optimal financial and operational performance. Improved technology also helps airlines to better understand and target their customers.
Things in the aviation industry are changing faster than ever before. Consumer demand for live in flight entertainment choices, and on board WIFI connectivity for mobile devices used for streaming, is increasing and major carriers are bowing to the pressure as companies need to follow the trend to stay competitive.
Cyber security risk is a major concern for the airline industry. Given the highly sensitive nature of flight systems and passenger data, it’s no wonder that airlines are very concerned with how to deal with cyber threats.
And as all this data is stored in cyber space, it gives cyber criminals and hackers more sophisticated technology to perpetrate attacks that can lead to loss of valuable data and cause chaos and distress.
Today most airlines are using Radio (VHF) and SATCOM to connect pilots with ground crews and with airport and Air Traffic Control, leading to greater efficiency, but at the same time it is also leaving a huge gap where they create greater opportunities for cyber attackers and hackers.
While airline security procedures have been effective so far, there are changes in the industry that are creating more access points for hackers including:-
1)The widespread use of tablet-based electronic flight bags (EFBs); EFBs are particularly popular with pilots as they have taken the place of heavy binders that pilots used to carry onboard.
2) The expansion of in-flight entertainment and Wi-Fi connectivity systems.
3) The modernization of air traffic control, which uses NextGen to improve network efficiency by using GPS (global positioning system) that is software based and connected to the Internet.
4) e-Enabled ground and onboard systems.
5) Cargo handling and shipping.
These threats need to be managed in a well planned and holistic manner with airlines closely cooperating with other carriers, hardware and software providers, along with airports, aircraft manufacturer’s and other industry stakeholders, as also their back-office IT, maintenance, operations, and consumer facing systems because failure in one area can affect others.
While an airline’s first goal is to prevent incidents, it is evident that threats in today’s environment cannot be entirely prevented.
Overall, security procedures to date have been highly effective and airlines are trying to stop attacks from occurring both on the ground and in the air.
But without any uniform industry standards in place, each responsible airline has to consider how to reduce the risk of a cyber attack and how to deal with one when it happens.
OS: PwC 2016 special report series: Cyber security and the airline industry.
PC: Shutter Stock; Aviation today; TTG Asia ;CTO Vision; Daily mail