Cyber to the fore as ICAO gears up for GANIS

10 October 2017

Keeping air navigation systems and software safe is a priority for the UN agency

The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) is to begin discussions on creating a network of trusted cyber-secure actors in the air transport sector.Steve Creamer, director of the ICAO Air Navigation Bureau. (ICAO)Steve Creamer, director of the ICAO Air Navigation Bureau. (ICAO)

With ICAO preparing for its Global Air Navigation Industry Symposium (GANIS) in Montréal from December 11–15, officials are readying themselves to consider how such a system would work.

“We are developing proposal for a cyber-secure network,” ICAO Air Navigation Bureau director Steve Creamer explained to Jane’s .

Members would abide by defined common standards in cybersecurity, including protecting passwords, keeping software up to date, vigorous anti-virus protection, and more. They would be able to “have a high level of confidence” when communicating digitally with each other, that such interactions would be safe from hackers, viruses, and other malware. Discussions at the symposium are expected to focus on how such a system would be established and managed, said Creamer.

However, formal decisions will not be made at GANIS. The symposium, which runs alongside a Safety and Air Navigation Implementation Symposium (SANIS), is about consultation. GANIS and SANIS meetings will discuss a range of topical air traffic management (ATM) issues, and conclusions and consensus reached in December will be used to develop formal proposals for a meeting of the ICAO Air Navigation Conference in 2018.

This could include a new treaty annex on tackling cyber intrusion into civil aviation systems. Creamer noted how the ICAO assembly in 2016 gave the approval for the UN agency to develop an agreement that would ensure member states banned such activity. Today Annex 17 to the Chicago Convention focuses on physical breaches and threats, but not cybersecurity. Discussions at the symposium could help generate a proposed new treaty for agreement in 2018 that would rule “cyber intrusions against aviation to be unlawful”, Creamer suggested.

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