Airport Security – Constantly Adapting Solutions to An Ever-Evolving Threat Landscape

In the past 5-10 years, the nature of threats facing international airports has evolved significantly. It’s not just the nature of the threats that is changing, but also the level of sophistication that would-be attackers employ when targeting airport vulnerabilities. While hijackings, bombings and the daily flows of illicit cargos remain a concern, airports are now facing more esoteric threats coming from new and unpredictable sources. A threat landscape like this, one that is constantly evolving, requires an equally fluid response.

New threats on the rise in global aviation

Cyberattacks: The drive for efficiency and sustainability in modern airports necessitates the use of emerging technologies, particularly those used to create interconnected systems. While powerful tools in the right hands, they have become vulnerable to cyber threats from hackers seeking to disrupt systems or steal sensitive data. Whether they are motivated by a political agenda or simple profit, hackers now have the ability to cause widespread and potentially lethal disruption to the world’s busiest airports.

Drones: The proliferation of drone technology – now widely available through legal commercial channels – is an exponentially growing threat to airports. Not only must they monitor and police their airspace vigilantly to avoid accidents or disruptions involving non-threatening drone enthusiasts, but the prospect of militarised drones also presents a whole new security challenge. From full-scale ‘kamikaze’ drone attacks used in the ongoing Ukraine during conflicts to the recent disruption of Gatwick Airport due to a drone near the runway, it’s clear that the threat of drone-related incidents isn’t going away any time soon.

Insider attacks: The threat from within is as great as that from without. This old adage holds true today, as airport workers and even passengers may be involved in criminal or terrorist activities against the airport itself, not just the planned flights it processes. Industrial sabotage, enabling smuggling operations, planting illegal surveillance devices – these are just a few of the potential activities planned during insider attacks.

Industry exemplar in the race for better security

Dubai International Airport and Dubai World Central: UAE
The UAE aims to be at the forefront of fighting cybercrime, as directed by the UAE Cybersecurity Council. Currently, both Dubai International Airport and Dubai World Central airports are undergoing a comprehensive upgrade of their Air Traffic Control (ATC) infrastructure – courtesy of Swedish aerospace company Saab, to incorporate AI platforms and specialised tools.
Not only will this dramatically increase the efficiency of ATC operations, it will also boost cybersecurity by creating an integrated system with fewer vulnerabilities and greater centralised oversight and control.

A Never-ending Cycle – Airport Security must remain vigilant
Regardless of the threat level, range and immediacy, no airport can afford to be lax in its security approach. Security operators and system designers are in a constant race with the criminals looking to undermine them. Even the most advanced security system deployed today can be compromised at some point in the future, if determined attackers are given enough time to figure out where its vulnerabilities lie. Airport leaders need to on the lookout for the most effective ways to stay ahead of their adversaries.

Equally, every airport is unique. As such, its unique infrastructure, employees, flight routes and passenger demographics require a bespoke security solution, ideally one that is integrated and intelligently managed with the right mix of responsive UI tools alongside automation and AI assistance, like those available from solutions providers like Saudi Airports Exhibitor Communication Experts.

Keeping up with technology is crucial for ensuring the safety and security of airports, their staff and passengers. As the nature of threats continues to evolve, airports must be prepared to adapt and implement the latest security technologies and techniques to detect and prevent potential risks. By investing in the latest security technologies and staying ahead of emerging threats, airports can maintain a high level of security and provide passengers with the peace of mind they need when travelling.