Aviation vulnerable to cyber attack, Iata warns

Aviation is potentially vulnerable to cyber attack as it faces new computer-based security threats, Iata has warned.

The airline trade body called on the industry, regulators, and manufacturers to work together to share best practice and “mitigation strategies”.

Director general and chief executive Tony Tyler described aviation security as being “at a crossroads”.

Pointing out that aviation relies on computer systems for almost every aspect of the business, he said: “How should regulators treat this new security dimension, and how can airlines tackle cyber security and airline security as a single unit? Our resources are not infinite.”

Iata called for a partnership between industry, governments and regulators to enhance aviation security by embracing a globally-harmonised, risk-based system.

Tyler said: “Global passenger numbers will be approaching four billion per year by 2017, and the ageing systems and outdated procedures of the current security system will not be able to cope.

“We need to change from prescriptive one-size-fits-all measures and embrace performance-based regulation if the economic benefits of aviation growth are not to be curtailed by security inefficiency.”

He added: “The terrible shooting at Los Angeles International Airport last Friday is a reminder that aviation security is always going to be tested.

“It is a sad reality of modern life that evil and disturbed individuals often target public spaces, including airports, to commit atrocities. Regulators have the difficult task of balancing security with the needs of modern society for mobility.”

The move to risk-based security requires advance passenger information (API) to be collected by governments, according to Iata,

Some 45 states already have API or Passenger Name Record (PNR) programmes, with a similar number looking to implement such schemes.

But it is essential that these regimes be harmonised in line with International Civil Aviation Organisation regulations. In addition the cost of collecting and processing the data should be borne by governments and not airlines.

The data being collected also needs to be used more effectively.

“Governments and industry can work together to make better use of the data collected,” said Tyler.

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