NBAA Conference Focuses on Cybersecurity

Defending against cyber intrusions is a key security concern for business aviation, attendees at the National Business Aviation Association Security Conference in Dallas were told recently. Much sensitive information is transferred through satellite communication systems on business aircraft, and to protect that data the onboard systems should be configured to allow only certain portable devices operated by the passengers and crew to access the network, according to Keith Turpin, chief information security officer with Universal Weather & Aviation.  

Doug Young, Gogo’s vice president for software architecture, noted that many larger flight departments have added information technology specialists to help harden their systems against cyber attacks. He also warned that users shouldn’t be lulled into a false sense of security when using a VPN.

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Being in the air does not protect the aircraft from cyber threats coming from the ground.

Young suggested that flight departments perform threat assessments for all the types of traffic that their passengers might conduct in the back of the aircraft, as different activities may have different risk-mitigation techniques. Another trend he has noted is flight departments and company IT departments performing their own vulnerability studies of vendor equipment. Regarding air-to-ground data transfer, over areas such as Russia and China, flight departments should assume that the system is compromised and refrain from transmitting sensitive materials, Young advised.