Cyber Security in the Sky

In the past, books, magazines, crossword puzzles and games were considered in-flight entertainment, none of which required the Internet. Now there is a constant need for mobile technology. To accommodate, airlines offer in-flight Wi-Fi and as a result, people can post, Tweet, watch and shop, from thousands of feet in the air. Convenience is important to consumers, but how does this affect airline security? In addition, how does this affect businesses on the ground?

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is transitioning to the Next Generation Air Transportation System; in preparation, the United States Government Accountability Office has conducted a study regarding the risks.

There is concern for hackers who may want to access sensitive information and internal employees who may unintentionally put systems at risk. As with any change, the study recognizes that there are challenges that the FAA may face during the transition.

Protection systems that include air-traffic control (ATC) information. The study places a high-level of importance on ATC security. It was recommended for the FAA to create and implement a cyber security plan to assure safety.

Ensure the safeguarding of the electronic systems in aircrafts that operate and guide the plane. In order to prevent, an unauthorized remote attack, the FAA has criteria to certify new interconnected systems that they are reviewing.

Define roles and responsibilities across FAA offices. In response to the challenges, the FAA has created an information security committee focusing on cyber issues.

The ability to remotely access information can affect businesses in many ways. If a system can be hacked remotely, then the websites that consumers are using in the air may be at risk. The consumers themselves can be affected, if the network is compromised and their devices are hacked.  In addition, if government sectors are at high risk while transitioning systems, then small businesses and corporations may be easier targets. Authentication and verification remain simple and effective methods to protect consumers.

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