Aerospace Industry Focuses on Cybersecurity

May 16, 2019 | Author: Dan Johnson

Cybercriminals are a resourceful bunch. They’re constantly coming up with new ways to disrupt our lives. They steal money, personal information and the very identities of millions of people every day. No wonder information security has captured the attention of everyone who uses a computer, smartphone or one of the billions of connected devices that comprise the ever-expanding Internet of Things.

With the number of connected devices growing by leaps and bounds, it’s no surprise that information security is a top priority for government regulators and companies in nearly every industry. The aviation industry is no exception.

Of course, flying is an exceedingly safe means of transportation. While there have been several cases in which airline reservation systems were hacked, there have thus far been no verified cases of hackers impacting safety by infiltrating an onboard system.

Safety is more important than ever in the age of connected aerospace. With satellite communications technology, information flows between aircraft in flight and ground operations. Military aviators connect with commanders in the air and on the battlefield. Commercial pilots access real-time weather information and flight-planning data. Passengers use in-flight Wi-Fi to stay connected to their homes and offices and even stream live video. Onboard systems message ahead, telling ground crews when maintenance is required.  

Connectivity has changed aerospace for the better, but it’s now more important than ever that we keep bad guys with bad intentions away from flight-critical systems and information. Government agencies, aircraft and equipment manufacturers, civilian and military operators, and standard-setting bodies like the RTCA all are focused on safeguarding assets and information from cybercriminals.

For example, U.S. departments of Defense, Homeland Security and Transportation all have launched cybersecurity initiatives affecting aviation. The Federal Aviation Administration mandated that airlines establish and maintain cybersecurity programs. The European Union Aviation Safety Agency developed a cybersecurity roadmap to address threats to the air traffic management system and operators. And industry groups like the Aerospace Industries Association and National Business Aviation Association rank cybersecurity among key issues facing the aerospace industry.

At Honeywell we take cybersecurity very seriously. We work hard to ensure that every product, software solution and application we produce has the best-available, end-to-end cybersecurity countermeasures embedded and that they meet or exceed all applicable regulations and standards.

We’re also deeply involved in industry-wide initiatives to improve the safety and security of aircraft, aircraft systems and flight operations. As the immediate past co-chairman of RTCA Special Committee 216, I was privileged to help set cybersecurity standards for avionics systems, which were incorporated into DO 356, “Airworthiness Security Methods and Considerations.”

The goal of the special committee’s ongoing effort is to set cybersecurity standards that manufacturers must meet to receive a supplemental type certificate. The directive describes a process for verifying that the manufacturer has developed a secure system.

 We’re drawing on the expert teams at the Honeywell Connected Enterprise and our industrial businesses, who have vast experience with other mission-critical technology applications. And we’re benchmarking best practices through our participation in the Aviation Information Sharing & Analysis Center (AISAC), a group dedicated to sharing security information.

In the end, cybersecurity is all about threat detection and threat prevention. Cybercriminals are getting bolder and more resourceful all the time. All aspects of the aerospace industry need to continue to work together to ensure a safe, secure and enjoyable flying experience for us all. Honeywell is determined to do our part.

Dan Johnson

Dr. Dan Johnson

Dr. Johnson has been responsible for network security design and certification standards for Honeywell aerospace wireless systems. He has over 30 years of experience in systems engineering, analysis, design and development of secure reliable systems for industrial and avionics systems.

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