The global aviation industry is increasingly focusing on cybersecurity. “Cybersecurity … has become a major concern,” highlighted International Air Transport Association (Iata) regional VP: Africa and the Middle East Muhammad Ali Albakri at a recent media briefing at OR Tambo International Airport, east of Johannesburg.
“Cybersecurity is so complex,” he pointed out. It involves systems used by airports, air traffic navigation service (air traffic control) providers, airlines, airliners and manufacturers. “Part of the challenge in the aviation industry is the challenge of exchanging [cybersecurity] information. That doesn’t happen today.”
With cyber attacks on companies across all economic sectors, worldwide, happening “every day”, this is not a theoretical concern. “This is a growing threat. A new threat,” he observed. The aviation sector was still trying to get to grips with it. “These things can happen anywhere. They could happen to anyone, any airline.”
“Iata continues to work with industry partners, cybersecurity experts … to bring all parties to the same level in dealing with this,” he assured. The aviation industry is so globally integrated that a cyberattack in one part of the world could affect operators in other parts of the world.
Iata is coordinating with air traffic navigation service providers and aircraft manufacturers to develop a “common cybersecurity toolbox”. There is a need to develop a common cybersecurity framework. “That is where a lot of thinking, a lot of work, is going on.”
“These things [cyberattacks] can’t be prevented.” The aim, explained Albakri, is to develop the ways and means of reacting very rapidly indeed to cyberattacks, to shut them down before they can do any damage. “That is the target of the aviation industry as a whole. These attacks keep changing, evolving. This will continue to be a major concern for all [aviation] players.”