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Cyber security: just how safe is our data?

The aviation industry, like many other sectors, shares information over the Internet and through IT systems on a daily basis.

And, while cyber security has always been an area of importance it has come under even more scrutiny in recent weeks following the news that Air India's frequent flyer programme miles was reportedly hacked.

Indeed, the aviation industry is home to huge businesses such as airports and airlines that not only communicate with each other online but also store a wealth of sensitive and private data within their IT platforms, including passenger information, which should never get into the wrong hands.

As expected, there is a significant risk that these companies will be targeted and attacked by hackers who want to compromise their businesses, potentially costing them a huge amount of money.  

According to the Press Trust of India, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has stressed that “heightened coordination with governments and their agencies across the world for counter-measures and sharing of intelligence and information” is needed, in order to combat the risks facing the industry.

Certainly, this has been a topic that IATA has regularly discussed, with the association describing cyber security (or the lack of) as a “fast emerging threat to operation”.

Earlier this month, Director General and CEO at the company, Tony Tyler, delivered a report on the air transport industry (June 2) explaining that: “protecting cyber security is a growing challenge”.

He said: “Our electronically connected world is vulnerable to hackers bent on causing chaos. We are all vulnerable and there is no guaranteed way to stay a step ahead. That makes real time collaboration and information exchange with governments and across the industry critical”.

“Make no mistake. We face real threats. Government and industry must be nimble, share information, use global standards and keep a risk-based mind-set when developing counter-measures,” he added.

So, with airlines such as British Airways, United Airlines, Air India and Malaysia Airlines among those who have reportedly been targeted by hackers over the past couple of years, the industry should certainly be making cyber security a priority to ensure that company and passenger data is better protected.

And, a recent report conducted by the Market Research Store has given a hopeful nod to a safe online future, foreseeing that the global aviation cyber security market will grow at a CAGR of 9.24% during the period 2016-2020.

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