Pentastar Blog

Avionics Security: Should I Be Concerned?

From hackers and computer viruses and other forms of malware to intercepted Wi-Fi or cell phone communications, unfortunately, we are already familiar with many security issues related to our use of computers, the Internet and wireless communications.

These same issues apply with modern transportation, especially by aircraft, when we consider the complexity of our computer-or wireless-dependent navigation, radar, communications, in-flight entertainment and cabin management avionics components. It is fair to ask: can airplanes be hacked?

Avionics SecurityAircraft communications are certainly becoming even more interconnected and potentially vulnerable. Developments that pose new security issues include the advent of the Internet of Things (IoT) or tower-to-aircraft texting that replaces or augments traditional voice communications.

Major airlines are watchful for avionics security threats. As recently reported in Avionics Today, airlines are increasingly prioritizing implementing protection against cyber threats.

The publication references a new study by SITA, an integrated IT business solutions and communication services provider for the air transport industry. SITA’s 2016 Airlines IT Trend survey found that about two-thirds (68 percent) of airlines in the next three years are planning to invest in programs surrounding IoT, or the development of the internet in which everyday objects have network connectivity, allowing them to send and receive data.

Moreover, about 91 percent of airlines plan to invest in cyber security programs over the next three years (compared to less than half reporting so three years ago when similarly surveyed), as we move from a closed in-flight environment to one with increasingly open communications.

“Like all industries, the air transport community is facing increased risk from cyber attacks and airlines are reacting to this responsibly by increasing investment in cyber security-related initiatives,” Nigel Pickford, director of market insight at SITA, told Avionics Magazine, “Airlines recognize that cyber threats never stand still and that it’s an ongoing requirement to maintain investment in safeguarding against these risks by staying one step ahead of cyber criminals.”

Should private plane operators be concerned? Defense against “hacking” of technology always involves two aspects: the technical and the personal. The professionals at Pentastar Aviation are on the cutting-edge, able to help you employ the most innovative technology from cockpit to cabin. As they work with you on solutions for Wi-Fi and high-speed data, entertainment systems, weather systems, cabin management systems, cabin lighting and flight avionics, our team is happy to advise you about the security aspects and features of your installations and any necessary safeguards that should be taken during installation or retrofit.

However, a key avionics safeguard is that human element—understanding how these systems work and the precautions you can take to avoid “breaking” security. Your Pentastar Aviation avionics expert will be glad to help you navigate these security considerations.

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