Transportation Systems Sector: Aviation

The Aviation sub-sector is comprised of aviation infrastructure owned and operated by public, private, and military entities. It includes airports, heliports, balloonports, and seaplane landing ports, which are regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration and the New Jersey Department of Transportation.

In addition to general aviation passengers, the sub-sector transports goods as part of domestic and international supply chains. A disruption to the sub-sector would have cascading impacts on other reliant sectors.

In New Jersey, there are 423 licensed aviation facilities, excluding military.

THREAT

Cyber: Moderate
Profit-motivated criminals, terrorists, and state and non-state cyber actors could leverage vulnerabilities in the aviation industry to disrupt operations and cause physical harm to US citizens. In June 2016, Air India’s frequent-flyer program was hacked, exploiting members’ information. In January 2016, a cyber attack—reportedly launched from a server in Russia—placed malware on a networked computer at Boryspil International Airport in Kiev, Ukraine. In 2015, hackers penetrated the United Airlines customer reservation system and the flight control system of a Polish airline.

Terrorism: Low

Recent attacks against the Aviation sub-sector occurred largely in unsecured areas where people congregate in large numbers. In June 2016, three individuals opened fire and detonated explosives at the international terminal entrance of Ataturk International Airport in Istanbul, Turkey, killing 43 and injuring over 230. In March 2016, dual suicide attacks at Brussels International Airport in Belgium occurred outside secure areas and near ticketing counters. 

Globally, terrorist groups continue to target aircraft. In February 2016, Daallo Airlines Flight 159 safely landed in Somalia after an explosive detonated onboard. In October 2015, the Sinai Peninsula affiliate of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria detonated an improvised explosive device onboard Russian Metrojet Flight 9268, killing 224.

PREPAREDNESS

In November 2016, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and United Airlines jointly launched new automated security screening lanes at Newark Liberty International Airport. These lanes incorporate technology to enhance security screening while reducing the time travelers spend in security by up to 30 percent. As TSA renews its attention on decreasing passenger wait times while ensuring safety and security, it has urged travelers to sign up for TSA Precheck.

In response to a mistaken active shooter incident at John F. Kennedy International Airport in August 2016, a joint security review published last month recommended measures to enhance airport emergency preparedness such as establishing a single, unified operations center, coordinating training with security stakeholders, requiring security and emergency preparedness training for all airport employees, and developing a plan for mass evacuation.

The US Department of State and the Centers for Disease Control regularly update traveler security alerts and health notices.

INTELLIGENCE GAPS

  • What types of cyber attacks are being used against airport networks and is information being exploited?

  • What is the insider threat to the Aviation sub-sector within the United States? 

  • Which terrorist groups are planning to target the Aviation sub-sector in the United States?


For more information, please contact NJOHSP's Preparedness Bureau at preparedness@njohsp.gov.