Monday, 23 November 2015

Cyber Security A Risk We Should All Take Seriously

In the face of continued Terrorism which seems to recognize no boundaries, notably the horrific attacks seen in Paris, Lebanon etc.. Add to this the behaviour of the Russian fleet in a way that appears to be targeting the installations of the world's network, reference the activity of late around the submarine cables. Then for-sure we have the new and aggressive paradigm shift which possible could lead to a new and necessary economic boom surrounding our IT infrastructure. It is perhaps an obvious open secret that world partners are conscious and concerned about cyber security, network resilience and the utilization in this digital age for terrorists to quickly communicate in a hidden and dangerous way. It is no longer just about the company's secrets it is also about our well-being, way of life that we must protect. Therefore, experience in this area will no doubt be in high demand. Cyber security.

Over the last five years there have been a significant increase in cyber attacks with each attack growing in sophistication. Therefore, it is obvious that the trend will continue and very soon with appropriate funding organizations or even nation states will be able to access any system as long as it is connected to the Internet. No country can now say with confidence that their infra-structure, the core of their economic prosperity, security etc. can be secure in times of troubled periods. Cyber Threats — Private Sector and Infra-structure. Threats and actions not only result in economic losses they can at times influence in a hastily way company policy, a notable example of this was Sony in the cancellation of their film regarding the spoof of North Korea. 

Cyber threats have evolved such that they can create chaos throughout infra-structure. A casing point is that of Ports and shipping. The comings and goings are all automated creating chaos possibly loss of life, cargo's, re-routing of ship etc. Industrial control systems, which operate the physical processes of pipelines, railways, and other critical infrastructures are at an elevated risk of cyber exploitation. Expand this to Aviation then fore sure we have a catastrophic scenario which can only result in loss of life both in the air and on the ground. To-date we have seen: 
  • Phishing attacks: There are numerous examples of this where victims, regardless of whether they are in the aviation industry, have had their personal data compromised, again a classic example of this was Sony and the mayhem that that caused by the North Korean hack.  In 2014 CIS (Center for Internet Security) reported that 75 US airports were persistently attacked.
  • Jamming attacks: Alarmingly a determined hacker can intercept the air traffic control data and add in a "Ghost Flight" causing mayhem in the skies.  They are even able to delete real events thus compromising data needed for aircraft management, such as: Speed, Location, routing and positioning of other aircraft.
  • Remote hijacking: Through the FMS (Flight Management Systems) you can potentially access; engine, fuel systems, navigation, displays etc.

To note whilst this is all quite alarming, it is of course known about and many systems are in place to prevent these scenarios from playing out.  Such systems are defined by "CAST" (Commercial Aviation Safety Team).   However, complacency is not an option as we must evolve as the threats are prevalent and all around us.  

  1. Data must be shared between Governments and Private sectors alike.
  2. All Industries must implement a cyber training policy. Highlighting the risks of personal data being loaded onto social networks. The risks to opening malicious malware through a personal email account.  Individuals should add layers of security to their personal accounts.  Such as; changes should require an SMS alert adding another dimension and preventing such attempts from completing.

To conclude there are many scenarios and many solutions all of which need attention as currently our enemies are well versed in using the very technology we have developed to improve all of our lives in ways that can harm us. No doubt having woken to this fact we can in short order trap and abolish this misuse.

More on the pages of Statura

Nigel Saywell-Lee

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