Stopping the enemy within

09 February 2018
Airports must take strong measures to prevent breaches of security in restricted areas – and they must also address the ‘insider threat’ to aviation. Source: Getty

Contactless smart cards and biometric access control play a part in keeping out the insider threat

Access control at airports can refer to efforts to prevent any unauthorised individual from entering a secure area, but it also includes the need to ensure that the insider threat from the airport workforce is minimised.

Investigators believe that lax security oversight of airport staff may have enabled a bomb to be smuggled onto Metrojet Flight KGL9268, which blew up in October 2015, killing all on board; and it is believed to have been a factor behind the attempt to blow up a Daallo Airlines A321-111 passenger flight in February 2016.

The issue remains a pressing concern for aviation authorities and security agencies around the world. In late 2017, for instance, the Australian government announced tighter security screening for airport workers, including baggage handlers, aircraft engineers, and caterers.

“Airport workers, together with their vehicles and belongings, will be randomly selected for explosives trace detection testing and other screening when entering or working in secure airside areas at major airports,” said Infrastructure and Transport Minister Darren Chester.

He added that the government would also introduce stronger airside access control systems for staff and boost airport employee security-awareness training.

The reforms will be implemented progressively, with airports given flexibility in scheduling the changes “to ensure they continue to function efficiently and effectively”, Chester said.

Airports would have to ensure that airport workers are authorised, properly identified, and appropriately trained before entering secure airside areas.

In some instances, the response is driven more by the need to combat petty crime than terrorism.

For example, after unconfirmed reports of passenger baggage being pilfered by staff at Lagos Muhammed International Airport, the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) announced in early February that it would start to profile workers at major airports in the country, and the Aviation Safety Round Table Initiative, an industry body in Nigeria, called on the government to install CCTV cameras to ensure effective access control.

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