Aircraft Systems Connectivity Has Never Been Riskier

aircraft systems connectivity

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The increased scope and complexity of connectivity technology on aircrafts and in aviation infrastructure, such as networked air traffic control systems, makes their operators more vulnerable to cyber attacks. This is a challenge that Raytheon has long been confronting in protecting its own technology, and increasingly the U.S.-based group is making itself available to help other companies.

“Increased connectivity creates more interception points malware can come through,” Bob Delorge, vice president for transportation and support services with Raytheon’s Intelligence, Information and Services division, told The company has been unveiling its new Cyber Protection System offering scalable Cyber Response Centers for defense, intelligence, and commercial customers.

The centers provide detection, network analysis and incident response that Raytheon says protect against cyber threats. They can also be adapted to take account of other issues, such as insider threat detection. Raytheon has extensive experience of implementing cyber security strategy, mainly through its initiatives in cyber intrusion detection and the need to ‘cyber harden’ military aircraft platforms, such as the Bell Boeing V-22 tiltrotor and the Northrop Grumman Global Hawk UAV. Its support for other companies and organizations generally starts with a comprehensive vulnerability assessment, which defines what may be required for risk mitigation, threat intelligence, hunting and remediation.

Over the past 15 years, Raytheon has acquired around a dozen specialist companies to boost its cyber security capability. A couple of years ago, it stepped up research and development work on protecting avionics systems. This resulted in applications such as one that can determine in real time whether or not an error message in the cockpit is legitimate or could indicate a cyber attack. This gives pilots the information they need to decide whether or not a mission should be aborted.

In addition, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has recently re-awarded the system Development, Operations and Maintenance contract, to Raytheon. The contract has a value of up to $1 billion over five years. The company will act as the prime contractor and systems integrator to help safeguard the .gov domain by providing design, development, operations and maintenance services in support of DHS’s National Protection and Programs Directorate.

“Raytheon stands ready to help protect the networks of more than 100 federal government departments and agencies,” said David C. Wajsgras, president of Raytheon Intelligence, Information and Services. “Our cutting-edge vulnerability testing, proactive threat hunting and remediation technologies will enable critical systems to be resilient in the face of ever increasing cyber-attacks.”

Under the contract, as reported on, Raytheon will help develop DHS’s next generation National Cybersecurity Protection System, delivering new and upgraded capabilities.