In recent times, airports are at the forefront of technological innovation, majorly owing to the exponential increase in the number of air travel passengers year-over-year. This augmentation led to advance airport security and offer an enjoyable travel experience to passengers. Today, airports are equipped with sophisticated physical security systems and intelligent security units to ward off growing threats that have also become increasingly advanced in nature and require effective cybersecurity solutions.
The importance of cybersecurity at airports is rapidly increasing to stay in the wake of industry data protection initiatives. It is becoming a major key enabler for safety that is supreme in the aviation industry. Smart airports endeavor to offer optimal services in a reliable and sustainable manner, by working around the domains of growth, efficiency, safety and security.
Looking at recent breaches and attacks, cybersecurity is imperative at airports. In 2018, British Airways, for instance, faced a large cyberattack as its systems had been hacked and the credit card information of almost 380,000 passengers had been stolen. This attack cost the airline a fine of nearly US$230 million, as per the GDPR guidelines. This kind of attack not only swells effects on fines and public scrutiny but also impacts customer confidence and brand reputation.
This is the reason data encryption and tokenisation technologies to safeguard critical customer information, including credit cards, identification numbers and bank accounts, have now become vital to keep every aspect of the travel process more secure.
Avoiding the Illegal Use of Identity and Runways and Perimeter Breaches
Experts in the Aviation industry are seeing notable growth in the adoption of cybersecurity measures in the heaviest-regulated regions, such as Europe, USA, among others. Today, airports and airlines are turning to analytics to prevent the illegal use of identity and systems. For instance, several airlines have found baggage handlers that have checked an extra bag filled with rare and high-tariff goods into the system for an accomplice to collect at the destination.
Thus, in June last year, the International Air Transport Association issued Resolution 753 that requires airlines to track baggage at four key points – passenger handover to the airline, loading to the aircraft, delivery to the transfer area and return to passenger.
Runways and perimeter breaches are also led to airports and airlines to adopt cybersecurity. Between 2004 and 2015, there were 268 perimeter breaches recorded at airports that handle three-quarters of U.S. commercial passenger traffic. For example, a man threw his bike over a fence in Chicago, riding the bike across a runway and knocking on a terminal door. A similar case had been seen in the UK as consumer drones had entered the airspace of London Heathrow forcing the entire airport to shut down.
Therefore, much of the protection is required to evade these types of breaches, with additional barricades and security personnel on the ground. Additionally, there is a need to track and secure what is on board, since the world has become connected and driven by the internet.
So, securing airports and staying ahead of evolving cyber threats is a shared responsibility of airlines, airports, vendors and regulators. Moreover, machine learning, big data and analytics can also be utilized to collect data and set a baseline of behavior, making threats and unusual activity easier and faster to identify.