Cybersecurity: how to protect aviation?
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Cybersecurity: how to protect aviation?

Cybersecurity: how to protect aviation?

To date, when it would seem that modern technologies are aimed at maintaining the effective operation of almost any field of human activity, a serious question arises as to how safe the use of air transport is. It is quite fair to say that over the past years specialists have achieved high resiliency of air equipment and ground control systems, but, according to experts, due attention to cyber security issues is by no means given, and this is fraught with a very big threat.

Previously, the information resource repeatedly reported that disruptions in the world's largest airports lead to massive delays and cancellations of flights, which in turn creates problems for tens of thousands of passengers, however, in most cases, this is facilitated by so-called disruptions that , however, also affects the competence of cybersecurity. Nevertheless, there is a much greater threat, concerning both civil and military spheres.

Cybersecurity in Civil Aviation

In December 2016, official information appeared that a group of computer specialists, using a wireless Wi-Fi connection in the cabin of a passenger aircraft, managed to establish control over the aircraft. In fact, the experts managed to bypass the built-in protection and get full access to the aircraft, and there is irrefutable evidence.

The very problem lies in the fact that, in fact, any person present in the cabin of a passenger airliner, using a mobile device, can get access to the aircraft systems, remaining until the last moment not exposed. Moreover, taking into account the capabilities of the worldwide computer network, an expert outside the aircraft, for example, thousands of kilometers away, can access the aircraft systems management by simply connecting to the device of one of the passengers and transmitting data to the aircraft systems.

All this causes serious danger, since radical and terrorist organizations can create a real confusion, for example, by changing the parameters of the flight of aircraft, which can lead to thousands of human casualties at a time. Violation of the work of just one navigation node, in particular, changing the parameters sent to the pilot's control panel, will not make a successful landing, which also threatens numerous victims.

Cyber ​​Security in Military Aviation

In comparison with the civilian sphere, the military sphere of aviation is, of course, more protected, however, even today there are practically no effective methods for ensuring cybersecurity.

Modern fighters, bombers and unmanned aerial vehicles used in the military sphere are almost entirely made up of electronic components, the management of which occurs mainly not at the expense of the person, but at the expense of the program, which means that the professional will not have much difficulty in making the introduction changes, for example, change the parameters of navigation equipment, the trajectory of the flight of missiles, the target, in the implementation of the bombing, and so on.

At first glance, all this may seem pretty fantastic, however, not so long ago the resource already reported that in the control systems of American unmanned aerial vehicles, a virus was detected that tracks the performance of drones of any commands and actions, which nevertheless points to plausibility of all the above. Moreover, in most cases military aircraft and unmanned aerial vehicles receive data about the flight directly from the ground, which, with the appropriate approach, will allow specialists to perform data substitution.

In fact, cyber attacks will allow to completely change the course of combat operations, moreover, it is important to take into account the fact that today there is practically no protection from cyber attacks of this kind, which forces us to develop this direction.

Methods of protection against cyber attacks

To know about the present threat is only half the matter, and much more important is the development of appropriate methods of protection. In civil aviation, the use of special redundant systems, independently working from each other, will be the most rational, however, this only minimizes the likelihood of an incident, but does not guarantee complete safety. In addition, it is important to protect civil aircraft systems from outside interference, in particular when it comes to providing Internet access services, the equipment providing data transmission must be completely isolated from the on-board systems if it is a matter of transmitting data to the crew from the ground , then the information must undergo a reconciliation procedure, etc.

As for the military sphere, it is a rather delicate approach to solve the problem here, in particular, the same experts propose using different control systems implemented on the models of aircraft used in own application and exported abroad, in particular, it will eliminate the risk that, that military specialists will be able to calculate the implementation mechanism in the aircraft control system, however, again, only a part of the problem solves this, since a signal can be used to substitute parameters eredavaemyh systems of the aircraft from the ground.

Given all of the above, cybersecurity experts clearly need to reflect on the aspects of protecting civil and military aviation, since any outside interference can lead to irreparable consequences.

Kostyuchenko Yuriy specifically for