Cyber threat: Israel’s airports prepare for the future of security

Anarchists, radical hackers, terrorists, disgruntled employees, organized criminals and states make up the range of potential cyber threats, according to Roee Laufer, head of Cyber and Information Security at the Israel Airports Authority (IAA). Laufer spoke recently in Tel Aviv at the International Defense, HLS & Cyber Expo (ISDEF) alongside Roni Tidhar, the head of international consulting services for IAA, and both described different sides of how Israel’s pioneering security is protecting Ben-Gurion International Airport and other airports and border crossings.

Cyber security is a global problem and worldwide the number of passengers is estimated to increase from 7 billion today to 14 billion in 2029. But there is a problem. Airports are part of traditional infrastructure, and they are often dealing with technologies that are 20-30 years old. They are adapting to see digitization as a core process with information technology at the center. But as things change, the cyber threat is also at the gate, trying to get in.
“We see rapid increase in incidents of cyber security issues,” Laufer said. They are increasing in numbers and sophistication around the world. At the most serious end are state-sponsored threats, he said, mentioning disputes in the South China Sea and Ukraine. But he also discussed cases where a teenager disrupted communications at an airport or a hacker targeted Australia. “So you need to re-think and change concepts.
“Also we need to think of airports as not just the screens that we see when we walk in, or even the complex systems used to communicate with aircraft. Airports are also basically a giant shopping mall. There are numerous suppliers involved in the supply chain that enables an airport to operate. Throughout that chain are cyber threats.”

Laufer sketched out concentric circles of danger. These include the perimeter of the airport, computerized infrastructure, sensitive data and critical assets. What that means is that you have different layers that can be penetrated, such as hackers trying to get information on passengers, or a protester seeking to broadcast over the intercom or post something on the screens.
The IAA is in charge of both airports in Israel, and border crossings with Egypt and Jordan. “So the holistic approach is challenging. It gives us a unique ability to look at the entire operation coast to coast,” he said.



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