With a total of 50 exhibitors, seven panel discussions, four workshops and two certified training courses on DO-178C and DO-254, Europe’s biggest avionics industry event, Aviation Electronics Europe 2017, concluded Wednesday. While it would be impossible to give an overview of all of the avionics-intensive presentations, learnings and keynote speeches from the two-day event in Munich, here are three key lessons we learned.
Commercial Aviation Has to Address the Evolution of Cybersecurity Threats
One of the biggest cybersecurity threats associated with digital networks and information systems for any industry is hackers always evolving their concepts. What that means is that avionics suppliers and the commercial aviation industry as a whole will continuously be a need to evolve their strategies to protect aircraft from intrusion and to manage the risks associated with their hardware and software.
As noted by Alex Wilson, director of business development for the aerospace and defense division at Wind River, during a panel discussion on cybersecurity and data communications, the risk assessment for an avionics airframe cannot stop at the introduction of the system to the aircraft. It has to be constantly monitored, maintained and updated to ensure it combats the latest threats.
“It’s not just about including security on our avionics systems when we put it on the aircraft, it’s also about securing it throughout that entire life cycle,” said Wilson. “How do we secure that system throughout its life cycle? The framework for doing this is well defined in DO-356.”
The Wind River engineer was referring to the Radio Technical Commission for Aeronautics (RTCA) Special Committee 216’s document released in 2014 — DO-356. The standard addresses type-certification considerations during the first three life-cycle stages of an aircraft type, including initiation, development or acquisition, and implementation. Wilson also referred to DO-355, which provides a framework for activities that need to be performed in the operation and maintenance of the aircraft related to information security threats, according to RTCA.
The main lesson learned from the panel “Data Comms & Cyber Security Perspectives” was that there are some well-established basic protocols that the aviation electronics community could follow to ensure the cybersecurity protection featured on their aircraft constantly evolves to meet the evolving external threat posed by hackers.
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