Strengthening Airline and Airport Cybersecurity is a Team Effort

Airport Cybersecurity

Over the last month, we’ve featured many 2020 predictions for the aviation industry on Connected Aviation Today, yet one area that will continue to be a focal point, across the connected ecosystem is cybersecurity. We recently had the opportunity to speak with Dominic Nessi, vice president, strategic engagements, airports at Aviation Information Sharing and Analysis Center (ISAC), about airport cybersecurity. In our conversation, Nessi delves into the importance of collaboration when it comes to cybersecurity strategy as well as different areas the aviation ecosystem is improving and, in turn, creating a more secure and smoother passenger journey.

Here’s what he had to share in our conversation:

Connected Aviation Today (CAT) Editors: There is a lot of opportunity for the connected ecosystem to grow and expand in 2020. What areas do you believe will see the most growth?

Cybersecurity in Aviation
Dominic Nessi, Vice President, Aviation-ISAC

Dominic Nessi: Moving forward, airlines and airports need to work closer together in creating a more cohesive and efficient architecture. There needs to be more of the self-service options that passengers have grown accustomed to like check-in kiosks, with dedicated counter space and resources reserved for premium passengers or passengers needing special assistance. This will contribute to the improved flow of the airport and, ultimately, the passenger experience. And this collaboration between airlines and airports needs to extend well beyond the ticket counter throughout the airport.

CAT Editors: How will the technology and adoption of technology evolve in 2020 to help spur this growth?

Nessi: The adoption of more automated processes will definitely help facilitate that streamlined experience. It’s something that all parties can benefit from, but it’s crucial for both airlines and airports to work together when building out and implementing these processes. As I mentioned, there needs to be a vision for the architecture as a whole and not just coordination on tactical elements like financing.

CAT Editors: Are there challenges that you see on the horizon that could hinder progress, if not addressed?

Nessi: There are always external challenges like oil prices, the risk of recession, etc., but within the aviation ecosystem, it often comes back to cybersecurity. There is the potential for a passenger’s information to be compromised and we have to trust that our governing bodies in the aviation community are instituting the proper safeguards to mitigate that risk as much as possible. That said, there is still a lot of hesitation to adopt new technologies because these decision makers want as many questions answered about them as possible. A challenge that faces the U.S. specifically is the feat of getting all of these disparate agencies to work together to install a cybersecurity approach.

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CAT Editors: How can industry collaborate to ensure success in 2020?

Nessi: In the area of cybersecurity, organizations like the Aviation ISAC are critical for ensuring that everybody has the intel available to mitigate any potential cyber threats. By making that knowledge and those best practices accessible, a standard of sorts can be set, and the aviation community is on the same page with how to proceed in the event of a cyberattack. This is especially important for smaller and medium size airports that don’t always have the resources necessary to effectively combat cyber threats; having a relationship with organizations like Aviation ISAC is invaluable.

CAT Editors: How do you see the industry evolving this year?

Nessi: I don’t think any one year is going to be a watershed year right now. Things are happening so fast that even the best predictors aren’t going to be able to predict what’s going to happen. I will say that I think there will be a continuation of what we’ve seen in the past year or two. We’ll continue to see increased adoption of biometrics and the like. By nature, the aviation industry can’t easily become an early or swift adopter of these technologies due to the immense importance of safety. This is why aviation decision makers tend to gravitate towards tried and true solutions, but with the growing presence of biometrics, AI, and the cloud, that adoption will progress forward accordingly.