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Security concerns and airport operations are important issues for computer networks in the airports and safety of air flights and passengers. The USA is often threatened by cyber attacks and it is extremely important to protect computer based information in order to prevent hazardous acts and disastrous consequences. According to the research, cyber threats have been growing all over the world (Wells & Young, 2004). In every US internal airport, security procedures are considered to be the number one task, though, they have undergone a lot of criticism. This paper will be focused on the security measures that are supposed to be used in order to protect the internal operations of airports and the information systems infrastructure that they support. Various methods are undertaken to maintain information security and prevent cyber threats. It is important to understand what can make information systems at the airports vulnerable to possible attacks.

The Importance of Airport Security

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Since September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, air travel and security measures have been strengthened more than ever before. The world has changed since September 11 and will neverbe the same as before. The government, as well as the airline industry are responsible for protection of the. That is why airport security is the main issue of airport operations.  In late 2001 Transportation Security Administration was established to protect the safety of travel in the United States. It is obvious that security procedures are provided with the help of various technologies, which can deal with intentional or unintentional cyber threats (Swafford, 2011). The job of security is hard-hitting and includes aircraft security, passenger and baggage screening and human behavior monitoring. A lot of professionals are doing their job to guarantee aircraft security. The research asserts that in order to prevent cyber threats and guarantee aircraft security, different countries must have similar security procedures (Sweet, 2008). Due to the logistics involved and dependence from different countries, to provide security in the American airports is a complicated task. All nations have to realize their common goal to protect human lives during air travels. In the era of terrorism, all countries must implement similar security measures in order to achieve the common goal. That is why, it would be very helpful to provide international policies and sign treaties, which will protect aircraft security. International security conferences and meetings must be held and security protocols need to be signed. Hundreds of millions of people are traveling all over the world, and all of them hope to be protected. Securing airport infrastructure is supposed to be ready to react to any cyber threat. The available information asserts that there are both advantages and disadvantages of security protocols (Salter, 2008). The national governments and authorities will achieve positive results in case they will work out a common program of security measures and react immediately on any occurrence.  

Cyber threats to the information systems infrastructure of an international airport are evolving and growing. These threats are coming from variety of sources, such as criminals, spies, hackers, disgruntled employees and contractors, and virus writers among others. Moreover, cyber attack activities today have become more sophisticated evolving different groups or individuals. Using different cyber techniques these individuals and groups may work within organizations or individually in different countries, what makes it difficult to recognize them. Having a variety of techniques at their disposal, cyber criminals are threatening the whole nations. Often information technologies are moved overseas, which allows hackers to operate even from their homes (Gomes, 2002). According to the available information, computer systems cannot be sufficiently protected from cyber threats because of the absence of robust security programs. Airport security operations may experience a lot of incidents, such as data loss, computer intrusions as well as privacy breaches. All these cyber attacks require improvement of security of aircrafts, passengers and airports.

The information, which was mentioned above, is a proof that the government has to implement special protection measures that sufficiently reduce cyber threats in airport operations. It is essential to establish control to sufficiently detect access to computer networks, systems and information. Air traffic controllers must be well-trained on how to maintain protection measures against intrusion attempts and anticipate future threats.  It is obvious that cyber threat protection in the airport computer systems is of the greatest importance in terms of security of the airports.

The Origin and Reasons of Cyber Attacks

Internal airport operations are the main issue for international airports all over the world. Security regulations and protection measures are changing and improving annually in order to find better ways to protect aircrafts and passengers as well as nations and their citizens.  Nowadays, information technology and electronic networks characterize all airport operations as well as any other sphere of life in the modern society (Gomes, 2002).  The reliability of these networks depends on human error, equipment failure, terrorist and computer hackers and natural disasters. From a technical standpoint, all these factors are parts of the same problem, which characterize threats and vulnerabilities. In order to manage these risks, it is important to provide a sustained system engineering process in the international airports. Air traffic controllers are responsible to maintain secure work in order to prevent aircraft disasters.

It is worth mentioning that human element is rather important, while focusing on the technical challenges. Information technology cannot be perfect without perfect work of professionals. Therefore, security concerns and airport operations depend on the proper solutions in case of cyber attacks or threats. Nowadays, automation with information technology makes the United States more powerful than ever before. The U.S. government is implementing different programs in order to protect internal airport operations. In spite of that the risk of cyber attacks on its information networks is not excluded. Cyber attacks may be prevented by improving automatic control upon computer networks. The research asserts that international airports operations and the people involved in this field are responsible for those who travel and secure work of computer networks (Swafford, 2011). Serving national interests, the special security tools are provided by the government.

As international flights involve different countries and people, cyberspace can be overviewed as a unique issue that has no national boundaries. Distance and geography do not stop terrorists or cyber hackers from threatening passengers or even nations. Therefore, it is important to understand that the federal government has to work internationally, establishing worldwide cooperation and to develop compatible protection of cyber structures to foster the safety of airports` operations. The available information asserts that it is necessary to identify responsibilities and inform public about the appropriate secure measures that will best serve the national interests and safety of American citizens (Sweet, 2008).  Reliability of security measures must serve by laws that delineate the boundaries of permissible behavior.

It is important to understand that protection of the internal operations of airports depends on the first main steps, such as:

  • Daily operations of people who are involved in airport activities.
  • Management operations that may comprise supervision, risk analysis, and oversight of both personnel and information technology systems.
  • Technical operations that have to be based on the IT systems.

The research asserts that it is hard to find out where cyber attacks come from. Some experts consider that the main cyber threats originate from China and Russia, though, Chinese and Russian officials deny that they organize cyber attacks against the United States. The available information asserts that cyber attacks are more threatening now than any other actions that occurred between the United States and the Soviet Union during the Cold War (Salter, 2008).  No matter what the origin and reasons of cyber attacks are, there should be measures that prevent disastrous consequences. High priority systems are implemented at the airports in order to maintain secure operations.

Airport Operations and Security Management

Airport security has undergone significant changes in recent years mainly due to the growing terrorist activities around the globe. Airport security authorities, agencies, airlines, government and private enterprises are involved in developing a comprehensive security plans and measures that include current and future needs. The impact on daily operations and passenger flow must be taken into account while developing these programs and measures. Each international airport cares about customer satisfaction and excellence in order to increase passenger volume and revenues. The research asserts that multiple technologies, security systems, vendors, airport tenants and operations systems have become difficult to manage (Wells & Young, 2004). In order to achieve the goal one should realize that key to the successful security measures is to introduce centralla scalable solution of security y.

Airport operations are rather complex what makes it difficult to examine and recognize all possible threats. For example, an airport environment in large cities consists of multiple terminals, each of which is examined and managed by airport authorities with their own security infrastructure. The common security systems in all airports include metal detectors, baggage screening and handling, video surveillance, access control, and security intelligence. These are important elements of any airport security plan. Video surveillance, for example, has the capacity of identifying unattended baggage, passenger flow, and abnormal behavior patterns.  This system is beneficial, because it is cost-effective and has video streams to monitor.  A central security system is able to bring together disparate technologies by leveraging network infrastructure across one or several airports (Sweet, 2008). Therefore, modern technology enables airports to effectively identify and reduce cyber threats and attacks and streamline operational processes and security. As a result, it has become possible to reduce passenger wait times, improve positive revenue and passenger flow at the airports.

Multiple systems and sub-systems provide information, which can be easily overwhelmed. Security analysts or operators are supposed to manage the information overload and make a response in a timely manner. A central security system allows operators to assess the risks and provide a quick response as events occur. This central system reduces the risk of human errors and emergencies. Multi-tenant airports are equipped with cameras, which provide cost savings and flexibility. A number of advantages arise when using cameras to monitor common areas. For example, one camera may be used by multiple stakeholders with clear and defined priorities.

Outsourcing airport security operations is of great importance. New international standards require airport authorities and experts to stay up-to-date. This helps to find alternative decisions, best practices and right choices. Managing airport security and airport operations must be conducted from a single platform. For example, Command and Control Center (3C) is a management platform, which provides airports with appropriate solutions that gives an advantage to integrate and manage third-party systems by consolidating information from various sources (Wells & Young, 2004). This system allows consolidate information from various sources and draw an operator`s attention to the most essential aspects. 3C comprises of four modules; a Mapping module, an Event Management module, an Intercom Management module, and a Virtual Matrix System module.

A Mapping module is represented by multi-level maps that are displayed in case of emergency, such as intruder alert, fire alarm, and intercom aviation through the event management system. The operator can see the exact location of the alarm in the visual representation icon. Maps are used together with cameras. An Event Management module gives an access to all events and notification of an alarm that may include alarm description, type and priority. An Intercom Management System module integrates image, voice and data into one solution. This allows communicate across a networking infrastructure. A Virtual Matrix System module allows airports experts to view recorded and live video from multiple sources.

Protecting Airport Information Systems against Cyber Attacks

In order to protect airport systems against cyber attacks, one should keep into consideration the importance of a strong supply chain defense that may reduce manipulation of IT and communication products. Therefore, the U.S. Federal Government has implemented different protection measures into developing the strategy that will reduce the risk of cyber attacks (Swafford, 2011). The Federal Bureau of Investigation coordinates, integrates and shares information about existing cyber coordination. This information is essential for the international airport experts, who have an access to the areas, which the public is restricted from. Many authorities argue that airport employees are the greatest risk to security because they have an access to all IT systems and programs. Therefore, all employees must be well-trained, dedicated to their job and to the country as they have an access to the internal areas to an airport. On the other hand, nobody can be sure for 100 percent where the sources of cyber attacks are. Due to the world networks and free access to the Internet, hackers from any part of the world can breach the computer programs.

Different coordinating centers are established in the United States in order to investigate and prevent cyber attacks. For example, the National Cyber Security Center was established in March 2008. This center coordinates and unites federal cyber security organizations and personnel in order to gain a clear understanding of the cyber security picture of federal networks (Sweet, 2008). To my mind, it would be rather essential if every American international airport hires additional personnel for the Department`s 24/7 watch and Warning Center for the airport `s Internet infrastructure. This center provides support and defense against cyber attacks. Then they share information with international partners and local governments. It is important to hire experienced and reliable employees who are dedicated to their country and security of airline crafts. Providing response support 24/7 may reduce the risk of cyber attacks. Not only personnel are important. Special programs and security measures are also of the greatest importance. though, there could be some disadvantages due to the human factor, such as lack of attention, not adequate reaction or late response. It may be rather expansive to hire additional personnel, but safety is the main priority.

The Department 24/7 has to be focused on improving and training people, providing technology that will help to prevent possible attacks and intrusion attempts. Facing the challenges of cyber attacks in the internal airports, the Federal Government has to develop multi-faceted strategies to reduce risk of cyber attacks at the earliest stage.

Security Risks

The research asserts that since the September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States security procedures at the airports have become a real nightmare for ordinary passengers. For example, delays in check-ins lines, personal profiling and x-ray screening are rather boring. This security procedures lead to implementing of huge recourses and efforts of airport`s personnel and pressure upon ordinary travelers. Thus, they have to arrive at the airport much earlier than they used to. In this regard, many people feel themselves uncomfortable and uncertain about the security of their flights. Moreover, a lot of passengers view the airport terminals as unpleasant environment (Gomes, 2002). Nowadays, there are multiple reasons for the traveling public to choose another type of traveling. This leads to cost-rising and revenue-depletion for the international airports.  Individuals with mental disorders, religious-ideological extremists and individuals with evil character may have their own motivation to engage themselves in a criminal activity. Thus, airport authorities must hire psychologists, sociologists and anthropologists to better understand the diversity of motivations.

 The partnership of technical personnel and cultural-behavioral experts may help to avoid risks of creating unpleasant and threatening situations at the airports and aircrafts. Their common efforts and skills may prevent criminal-motivated individuals to take actions inside airport terminals. But unfortunately, some exceptional challenges may occur among extremists, radical individuals or ideological-religious fundamentalists. Motivation is a key factor which influences behavior of people. All too often it is negative. Thus, maximizing security procedures is inevitable in regards of strengthening security in airport operations. According to the available information, computer network is under attack everywhere.

It is worth considering that the rapid adoption of information technology, in spite of its benefits, also is vulnerable. The experience shows that when computer systems fail, the failure is often complete (Swafford, 2011). Modern critical infrastructure information networks face many challenges from different sources, such as terrorist and computer hackers, human errors and natural disasters. A systematic analysis of threats and vulnerabilities are parts of a successful approach to managing these risks.


Security concerns and airport operations are important issues for computer networks in the airports, safety of air flights and passengers. The USA is often threatened by cyber attacks and it is extremely important to protect computer based information in order to prevent those acts and disastrous consequences. The human element should be taken into consideration while dealing with the technical challenges of assuring infrastructure reliability. Computer terrorists can disrupt infrastructure services by interfering with the information networks at the airports. Therefore, an understanding of the technical problems is essential in ensuring that the right priorities are placed on security concerns. Various methods are undertaken to maintain information security and prevent cyber threats. It is important to understand what can make information systems at the airports vulnerable to these possible attacks.

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