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FAA Chooses Firm to Evaluate Cyber Threats

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FAA chooses firm to evaluate cyber threats

As the world becomes more reliant on technology and connected via digital networks, vulnerabilities increase. This rise in vulnerability is often due to potential breaches in these interlinked systems.

There is growing concern about the potential dangers related to such interconnectedness, including data breaches and loss of system use. This includes corporations, public agencies, and more recently, civil aviation.

Last month, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) contracted with Astronautics Corp. to bolster cybersecurity. Astronautics Corp. will establish methods to help manufacturers, maintenance facilities, and carriers protect airplanes and systems from cyber threats.

Ultimately, the research project will look to identify system security vulnerabilities, along with safety risks and threats. Following identification of threats will come the development of timely, repeatable and efficient processes. Estimated to take just under a year to complete, the project will be broken down into three stages:

  1. A mature safety risk assessment framework.
  2. The application of the safety risk assessment methodology on the ACARS (aircraft communications addressing and reporting system) digital datalink on aircraft.
  3. After refinement of the methodology, it will be used in a second safety risk assessment model to further test and improve it as needed. The model is to be determined later.

A focus on cyber risks

In short, the company will be developing a model to assess safety risks on aircraft systems to ensure they are "cyber secure." Additionally, after testing the developed methodology, the FAA will apply it to aircraft systems to assess vulnerabilities and risks.

"There is a lot more effort going into cybersecurity, and research needs to be prepared to instigate actions that are getting taken. What we’re doing working with the FAA is to try and develop the methodology to come up with the right model to do an analysis of whether something is cyber secure or not." -- Astronautics president Chad Cundiff, as told to Aviation International News (AIN).

Kimberly Arsenault Kimberly Arsenault serves as an intern at the Cleveland/Bradley County Emergency Management Agency where she works on plan revisions and special projects. Previously, Kimberly spent 15 years in commercial and business aviation. Her positions included station manager at the former Midwest Express Airlines, as well as corporate flight attendant, inflight manager, and charter flight coordinator. Kimberly currently holds a master's degree in emergency and disaster management from American Public University.