What can Darwin teach the aviation industry about cyber security?

by | Aug 27, 2019 | Press Release

Air transport is a vital industry that contributes substantially to economic development and improved living standards. According to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the 4.1 billion passengers transported in 2017 are expected to grow to around 10 billion by 2040. And according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), 35% of world trade by value is transported by air cargo, equivalent to $6.4 trillion of goods. The role of the aviation industry in commerce, trade and transport infrastructure makes it indispensable to the global economy. The consequences of any major failure would carry direct public safety and national security implications and costs.

Today, the aviation community is benefitting from new levels of digitalization and connectivity. Technological advances are creating tremendous opportunities for improved flight efficiency, customer service, security, operations and passenger experience – both in the air and on the ground. Yet along with the new heights of efficiency gained through increasing digitalization and connectivity come new frontiers of vulnerability.

Airports are federated management systems with numerous interdependent service providers – and as such, deficiencies in airport cybersecurity potentially could enable the bypassing, subversion and eventual breaching of physical security. Additionally, as new capabilities arise, balancing commercial interests with sound risk management will be even more difficult, potentially creating significant harm to public order, confidence and trust.

There are nearly 44,000 airports in the world – and that means the number of surfaces vulnerable to cyberattacks is high, as is the number of passengers that travel by air each year.

Adoption of smart tech is as beneficial as it is risky

Global spending on the Internet of Things (IoT) is predicted to reach $745 billion in 2019. Transport is ranked third among the industries that will spend the most on IoT solutions, after manufacturing. Furthermore, airport facility automation is one of the IoT use cases that is expected to deliver the fastest growth in worldwide spending over the 2017-2022 period.

The opportunities that IoT capabilities can generate for the aviation sector are unprecedented. They include operational efficiencies such as tracking and connecting airport assets with maintenance and inspection functions, facility management to identify shortages or breakdowns in real-time, and automation of cargo vehicles, food services, ramps and taxiways.

Physical things and cyber systems are becoming increasingly connected – from airport assets to people and data – by harnessing technologies including biometrics, artificial intelligence, machine learning, robotics and blockchain. Rapid cyber capability breakthroughs also create new potential attack vectors at an equally fast pace. Cyberattacks on critical infrastructure are difficult to detect and control, and may generate cascading effects resulting in economic losses, industrial disruption and, in some cases, human casualties. When applied to critical infrastructures that drive economic and social progress, such as airports, the impact can be catastrophic in the absence of adequate security measures.


This news was previously published on: https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2019/08/aviation-industry-cybersecurity/

Sudipto Das

Sudipto writes technical contents periodically and backs it up with extensive research and relevant examples. He’s an avid reader and a tech enthusiast at the same time with a little bit of “Arsenal Football Club” thrown in as well. He’s got a B.Tech in Electronics and Instrumentation engineering.