The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has announced its intention to have an aviation cyber security force created, as the industry’s technology systems remain vulnerable.
Currently, the industry uses the automatic dependent surveillance broadcast (ADS-B) to track aircraft positions.
However, a presentation by Cyprus based researcher Andrei Costin earlier this year threw the aviation industry into panic after he showed how the ADS-B was not foolproof.
In a conference organised by Black Hat security systems, the researcher showed how using equipment going for as low as $1500 could be used by saboteurs to tamper the ADS-B and make planes on the ground to appear to be flying.
In a similar presentation last week in Seoul Korea, Costin showed weakness in the ADS-B protocol which so far has been adopted by a number of countries including the U.S and Australia as it allows planes to fly closer thanks to its precise aircraft tracking.
In a working paper due for presentation at the12th Air Navigation Conferencein Montreal next week, ICAO identifies Cyber security as a high-level impediment to the implementation of the Global Air Navigation Plan.
ICAO notes that although cyber security remains a minor issue in the industry, the new technologies in use are getting more prone to cyber attacks.
According to the organization, cyber security is the first agenda item in the conference and has been identified as a high level impediment.
The working paper attributed the heightened risk of cyber attacks to the increased reliance to a small number of technologies widely used in the industry such as Linux, Windows, IPv6 protocols and Ethernet.
The paper points out that the widespread understanding of these technologies including their weaknesses could spell doom with the systems becoming more interconnected, hence a lapse in one system could affect the others.
Above all the increased reliance on these systems means a lapse could have great implications even as ICAO laments there is little coherence between groups working on cyber security.
The cyber security force is thus expected to evaluate the extent of cyber attacks on the industry, as well as draw a cyber security design to shield the aviation industry.
These developments, even as the UN backed body estimates that $120 billion, will be spent in transforming the industry’s system in the next decade.