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A Threat and Mitigation Landscape for Airport Cyber security

Did you know that, Not a long time ago 4,000 passengers were stuck overnight in an Indian airport in May 2019 due to technical issues with the check-in, reservation, and luggage handling systems. Passengers at Bristol Airport in the United Kingdom had to read flight times off whiteboards for two days in September 2018 when the flight information screens at the airport turned blank.

What is the explanation behind this? Both of these airports were targeted by cybercriminals.

Unfortunately, terrorist strikes on airports are not uncommon. “97 out of the world’s major 100 airports have security vulnerabilities due to weak online and mobile apps, misconfigured public cloud, Dark Web exposure, or code repositories breaches,” according to a research by ImmuniWeb. As a result, sophisticated cyberthreats routinely put aviation systems’ data and operations at danger.

Airports: Why are they so vulnerable to cyberattacks?

Airports handle data from millions of passengers and freight shipments each year. Customers’ personally identifiable information (PII) and payment information, as well as staff data and biometrics, are accessible to them. Furthermore, because airports are critical infrastructure for a country, breaches can have far-reaching consequences that go beyond financial loss and reputational injury. In March 2020, hackers hacked two San Francisco Airport websites, collecting employee and contractor names and passwords. To avoid any unwanted effects, the airport had to disable the impacted websites and require a password change before re-launching them.

Airports: Why are they so vulnerable to cyberattacks?

For passenger convenience and operational efficiency, airports rely heavily on technology and automation for ticketing, check-ins, Wi-Fi, personnel identification, access limits, surveillance, and staff management. Because airport systems are integrated, unencrypted data transfer increases the attack surface.

The airport’s numerous human and unmanned equipment expand the threat surface even further. Ticketing and point-of-sale terminals, luggage handling, e-boarding stations, parking systems, site management, and other critical function workstations are all vulnerable to both internal and external cyberthreats. Furthermore, data exchange with third-party providers adds another layer of security complexity.

Cyberthreats faced by the aviation industry?

Airports are vulnerable to a variety of cyber security risks. The following are the most prevalent cyberthreats that the aviation sector faces:

  1. Attack on the payment method
  2. Ransomware
  3. Social engineering; deception
  4. internet security risk

Is it Possible to Avoid Cyber Attacks at Airports?

Here are five essential cyber security best practices that may assist airports in strengthening their security posture and defending their networks against cyberattacks and data breaches.

1. Keeping your endpoints secure

Airports should reduce unnecessary data transfer between endpoints and only offer access to critical and sensitive information to those who have a need-to-know basis. They must keep a watch out for unexpected behaviour in software, communication networks, and other vital IT sectors.

In order to minimise breaches caused by malware, ransomware, and zero-day attacks, airports may increase security by proactively shutting down check-in kiosks, ticketing systems, building and video management systems, and airport operational control centres. Even if they are not linked to the internet, legacy PCs and unpatched servers can be securely shut off.

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2. Remove Outdated Applications and Software

Airports must keep all software and apps up to date and implement any necessary security upgrades as quickly as feasible. Hackers are always hunting for holes to exploit in order to conduct zero-day attacks. Airport cyber security personnel must be vigilant in order to remediate any detected vulnerabilities.

Malicious threat actors frequently target airports in order to get access to customer data or demand ransom payments. Numerous third party companies like RAXA Techno Security Solutions provide various solutions like Premier manned guarding, Cyber security and also other various Aviation security solutions to help airports protect critical assets and defend against sophisticated attackers. By securing workloads, endpoints, apps, and users from known and unknown cyberthreats.

3. Visualise traffic on your network

Airport security teams demand complete network traffic visibility across on-premise users, endpoints, and apps, as well as cloud workloads. Various cloud-based technologies give real-time centralised, granular visibility into an airport’s critical apps and servers, facilitating the discovery of dubious connections. Risk measurements and analytics enable network managers to continuously examine and improve their security posture.

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