Aviation still vulnerable to cyber attacks despite greater IT spend: SITA


While the aviation sector has demonstrated awareness of the rising threats to security and data privacy, companies are still lacking in resources and capabilities to beef up their cybersecurity systems, revealed findings in a survey by SITA.

SITA’s president of Asia-Pacific, Sumesh Patel, shared that 92 per cent of organisations have developed an IT security strategy, and cybersecurity spend is rising year-on-year.

There is a need for the same standard and technology to better aviation security

However, the rate of growth remains sluggish. From 2017 to 2018, the percentage of airports’ IT budget spent on cybersecurity rose from 10 to 12 per cent, and airlines’ from seven to nine per cent.

Barriers inhibiting faster growth include a lack of resources, tight budgets and missing manpower skills. According to the survey, 78 per cent of aviation organisations cited limited resources as a key challenge when implementing cybersecurity.

Patel said: “The industry challenges are the same (across the board), but the problem is that not everyone is aligned. We need standards and technology that can help to bring the industry together and promote industry collaboration.”

To do this, SITA has been stepping up outreach and aiding organisations by pooling resources. For example, it launched an aviation blockchain sandbox last year to encourage collaboration and information sharing among airlines and airports.

Another area that SITA is building up on is operational excellence, which helps counter the impact of disruptions. Patel revealed: “(Flight disruption) is one of the areas where the industry is losing the highest amount of money. This is to the tune of almost US$35 billion.”

In this area, SITA has launched an enhanced flight prediction solution that grants airports visibility of its incoming flights six hours before arrival; the typical visibility range is 30 minutes to an hour. Patel confirmed that Changi Airport has implemented this solution, which will allow the airport to plan its resources and runway slots efficiently and in advance.

Looking into 2019 and beyond, IT investment for airports is largely channeled into self-boarding technologies. Some 74 per cent of airports will have self-check-in facilities by 2021, and 70 per cent self bag-drop.

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