The Importance of Cybersecurity in the Aviation Industry

Written by: Hanna Taller

Read Time: 3 min

The aviation sector is a prime target for cyberattacks. Airports, airlines, aircraft, and the many subcontractors and service providers involved in all these industries manage a ton of personal data like passport and credit card details. On top of that, with airplanes themselves becoming increasingly digital, networked components used for navigation and communication systems, for example, have created even more vulnerabilities for cybercriminals to exploit. Unsurprisingly, the number of cyberattacks on the aviation industry has skyrocketed as a result. 

Why is aviation cybersecurity important? 

Like other industries the aviation industry has become increasingly digitized over the last few years. Modern aviation systems development leverages all sorts of technological innovations like augmented reality, 3D printing, machine learning, cloud technology, and perhaps most importantly in the context of cybersecurity issues, the Internet of Things (IoT).

As airplanes and aviation systems have become more digital and connected, the integrity and security of data have become much more vulnerable. The basic premise here is that if something is controlled by a computer, in theory, it can be hacked. The more connections there are, the more vulnerable your system is. Although the interconnectivity of aviation systems allows the industry to benefit from innovation and new technology, it also creates an environment for unauthorized access to occur. 

Cyberthreats are constantly evolving, which is why governments and industry leaders have to evaluate the ways they ensure information security and aircraft safety for everyone involved. That’s why the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) developed the Aviation Cybersecurity Strategy. The strategy provides guidelines on how to prevent cyber-attacks, and why aviation systems developers have to adhere to certain industry standards when creating their products and services. 

Who does DO-326A affect? 

Increased focus on cybersecurity concern in the aviation industry forces avionics systems developers to engineer their products with vulnerability risks in mind. Titled ‘Airworthiness Security Process Specification’, DO-326A/ED-202A is a key piece of guidance for the safety of airborne equipment. 

DO-326A impacts everyone working in the field of aircraft and aviation systems development and production. DO-326 is all about ensuring airworthiness. In DO-326A airworthiness is defined as the protection of aircraft from unauthorized interaction. It focuses heavily on preventing aviation systems from being breached by hackers or getting infected by malware, for example, as any resulting failure could threaten the safety of passengers and operators.

DO-326A was designed to address the full development lifecycle of aviation systems cybersecurity, from concept to deployment and retirement. Following the recommendations DO-326A lays out will help your organization to cut development and compliance costs while ensuring the highest cybersecurity and safety levels possible for your aviation and aircraft systems. 

How the right tooling can help 

Managing information security in aviation systems is a challenging task with no clear start or finish. Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as checking a few boxes and then monitoring what happens next, but rather a prolonged effort against mitigating cybersecurity risks that evolve at a breakneck speed. Any time a feature is added or modified also means that the system needs to be reevaluated to make sure its security levels are still airworthy. As a result, compliance efforts are ongoing, and periodic risk analysis is paramount. 

DO-326 promotes guidelines with requirements that must be met to promote cybersecurity in the aviation industry. Having the right tooling in place to support compliance is essential for meeting the requirements of DO-326A and other rules and regulations of the industry.

Using Codebeamer’s Avionics Template allows you to achieve compliance with DO-326A, DO-178C, and other aviation standards. This template comes pre-configured with aviation domain knowledge, predefined work items & processes, and best practices to support product delivery in accordance with aviation regulations.

Learn More About Codebeamer's Avionics Template

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Tags: Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) Codebeamer Aerospace and Defense

About the Author

Hanna Taller

Hanna Taller is a content creator for PTC’s ALM Marketing team. She is responsible for increasing brand awareness and driving thought leadership for Codebeamer. Hanna is passionate about creating insightful content centered around ALM, life sciences, automotive technology, and avionics.