The aviation sector is overhauling its outdated technology and working to ensure its cyber defenses are as robust as its physical safety, with the private sector as a key partner.
At a recent presentation at the Aerospace Industries Association, Mark Heck, Raytheon‘s director of cyber programs and corporate business development, highlighted how an industry known for its commitment to safety is now working to cultivate a similarly beefed-up approach to its digital assets.
“The aviation industry is transitioning from old technology to new IP-based technology to create a more global and connected environment,” he told The New Airspace. “The more connected the industry becomes, the more vulnerabilities arise and the doors to exploit them open.”
Heck, who serves on the AIA Civil Aviation Cybersecurity Committee, highlighted how aircraft can be vulnerable to cyberattacks — but the treats don’t stop there.
“Take for example a new aircraft today,” he said. “It has nearly 100-million lines of code from the software inside the aircraft. We’ve done research that shows a percentage of this code is defective and, therefore, exploitable. And that’s just the aircraft. Now, consider the systems in the air traffic control booth or at the airport. Not to mention insider threats. The vulnerabilities can be extensive.”
It’s now time for industry to “work hand-in hand” with agencies such as the Federal Aviation Administration to implement security into the current safety culture of the aviation industry. With government and industry collaborating, the aim is to create a stronger risk-based approach to thwart and mitigate digital threats.
And as Heck concluded, “Together, we will help bolster the cybersecurity culture to prepare for future threats.”