Can Your Airport and Airline Security Win Against Today’s Security Challenges?

 Author(s): , Posted on November 2nd, 2017

Airlines and airports are confronted every day with a complex set of security concerns. Because their systems contain credit card data, they need to provide protection against identity theft and bankcard fraud. Since they record the times, dates, and methods of their customers’ travel plans, they must safeguard that information to ensure the welfare of people’s lives and possessions. And, with the increase in terrorism, they have to be able to identify criminals, explosives, and chemical weapons. Quite literally, a successful cyberattack on an airline or airport could have ramifications from the personal to the global level.

Unfortunately, because cyberattacks are becoming more sophisticated all the time, airlines and airports can find it hard to keep up. Yesterday’s security may have been more than adequate to thwart yesterday’s hackers, but the hackers of today may have ways over, under, and through those protections.

Three of the greatest challenges to maintaining security equal to the cyberthreats posed today are:

  1. Physical assets (e.g., scanners, monitors) are now connected to an airport’s or airline’s systems. This means that (a) a hacker can gain access to internal systems through physical equipment, and (b) a hacker can modify the data and/or results from physical equipment if they have access to internal systems. Illicit movement can occur in both directions if proper protections are not put in place and kept up to date.
  2. Airlines and airports tend to have an eclectic mix of systems in place that have been developed or added on over the decades as need arose. It can be difficult to put end-to-end security in place to protect these often siloed legacy systems.
  3. Transportation is a global industry, with complex business relationships and geopolitics at play. There are countless stakeholders in the mix. Data flows constantly back and forth between numerous internal and external systems. Regulations and requirements evolve by the day. With so many moving parts and affected parties, it is hard to keep up to speed with appropriate security measures.

So, while airlines and airports undoubtedly affirm the need for holistic security, the security they have in place may not be enough to meet today’s multiplying risks. What the industry needs is a better, smarter, faster way of incorporating end-to-end security. To learn what that entails, read our latest POV now: The Need to Lead with Security in the Transportation Industry.

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About the Author

Donna Sundstrom is a Solutions Manager with Unisys Travel & Transportation. She brings over 25 years of experience in the airline industry, including skills in understanding passenger and cargo systems. Read all Posts





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