ROUTES: Cyber attacks major threat to aviation - ICAO

Las Vegas
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A rogue cyber attack on an airline, airport or air traffic management system poses the gravest threat facing international aviation today, ICAO’s security chief says.

Jim Marriott, chief of the UN body’s aviation security branch says that the “possibility of the cyber infrastructure being exploited in some way to cause interference to aviation” was the threat that “keeps him up at night.”

He says that the threat ranges from an unco-ordinated “nuisance” attack by hackers that causes temporary disruption to a planned terrorist assault on a “much more grand scale.”

Such is the threat that “work will begin very soon on an international piece of work that will address this issue” involving airlines, airports, national security authorities and manufacturers, says Marriott.

A key objective of this work will be to examine aviation’s vulnerability and resilience to such an attack and he states that while moderate level cyber attacks have been reported in the media, it remained relatively unclear how grave the threat was and how the sector would cope with a concerted virtual attack, he states.

Marriott says it is unclear how much of a part government agencies will have in the future protection of aviation from cyber attacks and hinted that the private sector may need to play a much larger role in future.

The air cargo sector is another area of worry for Marriott who says that while the relevant regulations to protect the air cargo supply chain had been introduced since 2010, there was a major concern that these are not being adopted across the industry.