Aviation Cyber Security: Challenges and frontiers of growth

Strap: Cyber security in the commercial aviation space is susceptible to challenges that are specific and manifold driven by the need for greater devices that are connected to provide seamless passenger services as well as the emergence of connected planes. This article further explores the complexities that are brought to the fore by these major developments

Cyberspace is vulnerable to several risks involving cyber threats and its hazards, and has, in the past decade, intensified in complexity and technical sophistication. There are many forms of cyber-attack, from malware injection and phishing to social engineering, DDoS, and brute-force attack. These have intensified over the past 2-3 years, and are also being carried out in a stealth mode, often with inert code inserted that may hive off data and wait for a window of opportunity to emerge. While players in the cyber security have been trying to evolve detection and protection mechanisms, staying one step ahead of potential threats has increasingly become a challenge. This is acerbated by the fact that more and more data is now being deployed in the cloud and that more devices are now interconnected. According to a McAfee survey, the recovery cost after a cybercrime is more than the damage cost incurred during a cyber-attack and aviation firms are hugely vulnerable and cannot risk a stray incident since the implications can be more severe.

The aviation industry has made use of digital technology for executing varied aviation processes over the past few years. Digitization of aviation activities makes these processes vital to high security risks. Cyber-attacks are on the rise due to the increasing use of internet and growing social media users, which invite new threat vulnerabilities. Also, the recent evolution of Internet of Things (IoT) has brought on several security challenges, such as Point of Sale threat, and threats to sensors, gateways, and end devices. These threats can cause a devastating impact to smart grid and smart transportation, where a single cyber-attack can cause significant loss of life, apart from financial loss.

Consider the following instances:
• In 2015, the LOT Polish Airlines’ ground computer systems were attacked by hackers, which led to the cancellation of 10 flights and delay in others. Due to this, around 1,400 passengers were grounded at the Warsaw Chopin Airport.
• Earlier, in 2014, a Malaysian flight disappeared and investigations suggest that the missing Malaysian Airline could have been hijacked using a smart phone.

Airport passenger traffic has seen a major growth over the past few years, increasing from 1.89 billion in 2003 to 3.13 billion in 2013, and is expected to maintain a steady momentum, given the weakness in oil prices. This will further burden airports to become more efficient and lead them to implement systems that are technologically sound and are make airports ‘Smart and Intelligent’. This has already sparked an evolution and led airports to implement connected networks that make it easy for passengers and cargo to get where they need to be. Such connectivity offers passengers a new and helpful experience, from pre-flight to post-flight and a seamless integration of information from various processes — from pre-arrival, to check-in, to security, to flight information displays, to baggage, to boarding and even post departure — to streamline airport operations. Near field communication technology is also being explored and offers great promise as it will enable passengers to perform transactions at airports with the help of mobile devices. For instance, in France, Orange Cyberdefense has set a target to introduce NFC-enabled smartphones in the market. Since the aviation industry has begun relying extensively on IT and computer systems for its ground and in-flight operations, these pose unique challenges for aviation firms and airports alike, and the security of these systems can impact the operational safety of the aviation industry as a whole.

IoT and digitization of operations in the aerospace and defense sectors have made the industry highly dependent on IT and with the evolution of e-enabled aircraft, such as Boeing 787, Airbus 380, and A350, the risk of cyber-attacks have also increased.

Inspection needs to be done from both airworthiness and security perspectives in order to avoid cybercrime issues. To better detect cyber threats, a highly automated and scalable approach to cyber security solutions is the need of the hour. Investments in cyber security, especially by aerospace and defense firms are projected to increase considerably and at a faster rate compared to other industries, due to the high dependence of these industries on IT to accomplish their operations, the exposure to external systems, and to alleviate the potential for a mass threat to life.

The need to protect networks from cyber-threats has also led players in this space to adopt multiple security solutions, which has further increased the complexity of IT infrastructure. To alleviate the effects of complex infrastructure, companies are also opting for converged security solutions, such as unified threat management and next-generation firewalls.

Apart from these, there has been a steep rise in the demand for big data analytics tools in the cyber security market. The amalgamation of big data analytics and security solutions becomes imperative in managing threats and strengthening cyber defense related capabilities. The application of big data in cyber security is also driven by increasing government regulations to develop better data protection and security solutions.

Cloud-based security solutions are also being increasingly deployed as they provide numerous benefits over the traditional premise-based models for cyber security. These are less expensive, more efficient, and provide a higher level of security. They also centralize firewall policies and security rules, and thus facilitate an easier management of cloud-based data, with absolute protection of multiple devices across different networks.

The above mentioned factors are expected to contribute significantly to the demand for enhanced cybersecurity and subsequent innovation in related applications owing to the rise in cyber threats.

A detailed report on the Global Aerospace and Defense Cyber Security Market can be found at the link mentioned below:


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