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Cyber Threats: Nigeria’s Aviation Sector Comes Under Scrutiny

peter oluka
Engineer Ifeanyi Ogochukwu, chief technology strategist, Debbie Mishael Consulting
Engineer Ifeanyi Ogochukwu, chief technology strategist, Debbie Mishael Consulting

The Nigerian aviation industry may be at risk without appropriate cybersecurity measures put in place for the evolving threat, Engineer Ifeanyi Ogochukwu, chief technology strategist, Debbie Mishael Consulting, has warned.

According to Oxford Economics, the aviation sector in Nigeria contributes N199 billion or 0.4 per cent to Nigeria’s GDP.

This total comprises N59 billion directly contributed through the output of aviation sector (airlines, airports and ground services). Indirectly, N34 billion is contributed through the aviation sector’s supply chain and N27 billion contributed through the spending by the employees of the aviation sector and its supply chain.

In addition, there is N78 billion catalytic benefits through tourism, which raises the overall contribution to N198 billion or 0.6 per cent of GDP.

The Aviation Transportation System continues to grow rapidly, as more and more passengers regularly choose to fly. On a daily basis, hundreds of flights arrive, depart, or overfly the Nigerian Airspace, while each year huge amount of freight are transported by air into Nigeria and within Nigeria.

However, Nigeria is still grasping with physical security issues only when the threat landscape has shifted from the physical plane to cyberspace.

Ogochukwu told Nigeria CommunicationsWeek that this percentage based on the huge aviation potential in Nigeria is highly sub optimal and can be greatly enhanced if the appropriate policies and implementation is undertaken with the right strategic leadership.

“But then any disruption of the Aviation domain may create catastrophic consequences which include loss of lives, destruction of Aviation Infrastructure, revenue loss, shut down of businesses, loss of jobs and serious emotional and psychological trauma amongst others.

“Aviation is one of the most complex and integrated systems of information and communications technology (ICT) in the world, the global aviation system a highly technology driven environment is a potential target for a large-scale cyber attack. The aviation industry keeps expanding, changing, and becoming increasingly connected due to the continual, and rapid integration of new technologies. As technologies rapidly evolve in a frenetic pace, however, so do our adversaries and their threats.

“The Nigerian aviation industry therefore may be at risk without appropriate cybersecurity measures put in place for this evolving threat. It is imperative therefore that the industry maintain the highest levels of confidence in aviation,” he said.

He said that Nigeria in recent years through the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) particularly have placed more emphasis on physical security and has done a lot in trying to secure our physical security perimeters due to the global upsurge in terrorists attacks, which is highly commendable, but without a concerted combined effort of a two prolonged containment strategy on both the physical and digital domain then we are still highly vulnerable to cyber attacks.

Ogochukwu added that this two pronged strategy should involve all the industry stakeholders - government, private sector and airport users - passengers especially.

“So in effect the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority as the regulator should be driver or enabler of the industry based stakeholder approach to dealing with cyber threats along with the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency, Nigerian Meteorological Agency, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, Nigerian College of Aviation Technology, Airlines, and Aviation and Airline Servicing companies, etc,” he urged the aviation authorities.