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Addressing the Cybersecurity Threat: Making Aviation Fit for the 21st Century

By  Brussels, — Last updated on 31 March 2020

October marks the European month of Cybersecurity. Cybersecurity is not a new topic in aviation, but recent increases in the number of hacks, data theft and phishing have brought the issue into the spotlight. Behind the scenes, A4E and its members are heavily involved in a variety of initiatives to create a cyber resilient aviation system in Europe.

The complexity of developing a cybersecure environment is not only technological, but also human and organisational. Indeed, all stakeholders must be part of the equation, including service providers and passengers.

We are team players

Because we are well aware that we cannot fight cybersecurity on our own, A4E participates in the work of the European Strategic Coordination Platform (ESCP) and welcomed the recent adoption of the Strategy for Cybersecurity in Aviation. In this important document, stemming from the collective work of aviation stakeholders, we outline two key features:

  • a trustworthy and dependable environment, so that aviation stakeholders can rely on services and information provided by others for the accomplishment of their operational objectives;
  • a system-of-systems capable to adapt and withstand new threats without significant disruptions.

“We are as strong as the weakest link”, EUROCONTROL reminded us, hence the growing importance of collaboration, best practice sharing and dissemination of threats. The recent launch of the European Centre for Cybersecurity in Aviation, where some A4E members are active, is a great example of such cooperation.

We lead by example

Our members also have dedicated teams or ad-hoc working groups to tackle cybersecurity threats, often combining colleagues from their Security, Information Systems, Operations and Maintenance departments. For instance, Air France set up a Cyber Committee back in 2017 to cover both regulatory requirements but also ongoing initiatives on a six-month basis.
A4E welcomes the work of the Juncker Commission on Cybersecurity, with the adoption of the NIS Directive and the Cybersecurity Act in particular. We call on the new EU leadership to keep up the political momentum of this dossier. A4E airlines stand ready to continue to liaise with the EU authorities and work across sectors to make aviation and Europe cyber-resilient!