Taking it to the skies: Cyber security in airports leaves room for improvement

Airports are often in the news for flight delays, long lines, and unruly passengers, not for cyber security incidents. When hacks and data breaches occur, they often have a big impact and affect many passengers.

How are facilities that move hundreds of millions of individuals from location to location protecting the precious data provided by passengers?

97% of global airports have security issues

In a study of the 100 largest airports in the world, ImmuniWeb found that 97 have major issues ranging from vulnerabilities in applications to exposure on the Dark Web. Testing using freely available online tools like SSL security and mobile application tests, shows that these large airports are vulnerable and can be expolited by a novice hacker.

Foreign airports are taking security seriously

While ransomware and other cyber security issues have taken municipalities, schools, and hospitals by storm, many internaltional airports have worked diligently to create an environment of cyber security. Israel’s Airports Authority blocks more than 3 million attempted system breaches each day and has created a security operation center (SOC) to help combat the issues.

U.S. based airports are susceptible to incidents

Over the past year, U.S. airports have faced cyber security incidents, including a hack of the U.S. Customs system. In August, a nationwide outage that impacted the processing of international travelers was linked to a cyber attack, but an attack was never confirmed by the agency. The outage delayed flights and caused long wait times at security checkpoints around the country.

Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport took a proactive approach when the city was embroiled in a ransomware attack in 2018, shutting off the public Wi-Fi to prevent the spread of the malicious software. The busiest airport in the world in terms of passenger traffic, Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport’s staff took the precaution to protect its data.

Both instances show how a cyber attack, or just the threat of an attack, can impact domestic airports and government agencies.

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