Four reasons the aviation industry must take cybersecurity seriously

by | Aug 24, 2023 | Airlines, Airports, Digital Transformation

The aviation industry has been propelled forwards by the digital transformation, bringing about efficient operations for airports, a more seamless journey for passengers, and increased personalisation.

However, this evolution must be tempered with an awareness of the vulnerabilities that can ensue. In April, Boeing reported occurrences of randsomware in the aviation supply chain rose 600 per cent in one year.

Randsomware, malware, phishing, and Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs) are only a few examples of cyber-attacks and they pose a very real threat in a digitised industry. With this in mind, here are just four reasons why aviation must take a cybersecurity seriously.


Rapid digitisation

As the industry adopts digital solutions at a quick rate, it becomes increasingly reliant on interconnected systems which are vulnerable to threats. Everything from air traffic control to passenger data management rely on digital technologies, opening it all up to interference by attacks.


Data protection

Data is constantly being produced and stored; it is estimated the average commercial aircraft creates 20 terabytes of engine data per hour. Personal information of passengers, logistical data flows, and critical maintenance records are only a few examples of the huge volumes of sensitive data the industry stewards. Cyber-attacks can lead to breaches which in turn open companies up to reputation and economic loss.


Economic impact

In 2022, the average cost of a data breach was $4.35 million. This emphasises the economic value of cybersecurity. Of the cyber-attacks against airlines in 2020, 95 per cent were financially motivated and 55 per cent of these led to financial loss. An additional 34 per cent resulted in the leaking or theft of personal data. Attacks can further cost through disruption, raising lasting doubts about reliability and influencing loyalty.


Upholding smooth operations

At last year’s World Aviation Festival, Tamur Goudarzi Pour, Chief Commercial Officer (CCO) & Member of the Board Swiss International Air Lines reminded the audience, “we are 24/7, so whatever we do is like performing open heart surgery.” By its nature, the industry is non-stop and disruption can result in delays, financial losses, and passenger dissatisfaction. Maintaining smooth operations is vital and cyber-attacks pose a threat this.

On 26th September, the World Aviation Festival’s Cybersecurity Summit will explore how to effectively deal with the evolving landscape of cybersecurity, looking at future proofing, artificial intelligence, and strategies. To hear directly from EUROCONTROL, Lufthansa Group, IBM, and more on this topic, get your ticket now


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