Intersec Blog

Airport Security Trends

Posted by Richard McKeon on Oct 13, 2016 10:34:50 AM

Airport Security is back in the news with the release of this year’s Airport IT Trends survey by SITA and ACI. Given its importance for security technologies Philip Ingram from Security News Desk and SecurityMiddleEast.com takes a look. 


One location where almost every security technology and process comes together is in an airport.  From individual profiling, staff vetting, searching people, bags and goods, to monitoring 10’s of kilometers of perimeter for intrusion through radar and other detection methods, to surveillance through CCTV, X Ray machines, millimeter wave scanners and explosive sniffers; the technology available and the trends mean that airports will always be of interest to security professionals.  Philip Ingram from Security News Desk and SecurityMiddleEast.com has a look at some of the current Airport Security Trends.


According to this year’s Airport IT Trends survey, co-sponsored by SITA and Airports Council International (ACI), in association with Airline Business, security is moving up the agenda.


Airport Security TrendsThe report says, “In previous years, when it comes to prioritizing budget spend, a clear majority of airports (59%) have passenger processing as a high priority for IT investment. However, this is significantly fewer airports than seen last year when the equivalent figure was 73% (2015). For a good number of airports, the focus has shifted to passenger and airport security in the wake of heightened regional tensions, some of which is directly targeting air travel. This year it is a high priority for 50% of airports compared to 37% in last year’s survey. That moves it up to 2nd in the overall IT priority list from 5th in the 2015 survey.”

Paul Baker, Managing Director, Smiths Detection, ME operations, explained that one of the key drivers of growth in the airport security market is relatively simple – the number of people travelling is greatly increased.

“The increase in the number of global air passengers, particularly in the Middle East and Asia-Pacific regions, have played a key role in driving investments in airport security infrastructures,” he said. “Passenger traffic at airports in the larger region has recorded fast paced growth. As per the findings of a recent IATA report, Dubai Airport has recently announced growth projections of 126 million passengers by 2020 as the aviation demand continues to soar. In addition, passenger numbers in Qatar are expected to increase at a rate of 4.8% annually until 2034, all in preparedness for the World Cup 2022.


“With the exponential increase in passenger traffic, airport operators in the region are now keen on implementing smart checkpoint solutions that are aimed to enhance airports’ operational efficiencies.”


Philip Verner, Regional Sales Director, EMEA, CEM Systems, highlighted two other major reasons for increased spending, saying, “Growth can be attributed to two main factors. First, the vast increase in security threats experienced by the aviation sector worldwide, which has been widely reported in the press in recent years, has been reflected in spend across all security areas such as access control, IT, passenger security, and so on, to protect facilities and passengers.


“Second, there has been a rapid increase in the growth of new airports worldwide, particularly in emerging economies where the aviation sector is growing dramatically including the Middle East, India, Africa and China. Even in more economically developed countries there is growth in the aviation sector, which is critical to the success of any region. It is the norm that the aviation sector is continually undergoing development for growth, all of which will have an impact on airport security spend and drive growth within this market.”


Tony Thompson LLB MSc from the Emergency Planning Society, looked at the implications of cybersecurity threats to airport security. He said, “The threat to global aviation is real and is likely to continue. The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) has produced a Global Risk Context Statement which presents its assessment of high-level risks to help countries manage their civil aviation security programmes. It is largely based on the threat of terrorism using traditional attack methods. It does not specifically address the growing threat from cybercrime and the potential for cyber methods to be used as either an attack method, or in combination with traditional attack methods.


The SITA and ACI report said, “With cyberattacks becoming increasingly frequent and sophisticated how prepared are airports to tackle this emerging threat? Just over half of airports say their cyber security plans are fully developed and operational, while a further 41% admit that their plans are still only at the development stage. Today, 4% of airports indicate they have no plans in place at all.”


This however shows real progress from where airports were three years ago, when only 7% of airports said they were prepared to deal with any threats. Today, that figure has reached 19%.


“The most common cyber security initiatives are around educating staff to the threat. Four out of five airports are already doing this through general awareness training, with almost all of the remainder planning to do so by the end of 2019. A good proportion are also going further with specific training/education related to user an access management.”


“Mobile devices have created a multitude of new endpoints for cyber attackers to exploit, and just over half of airports are alive to the threat with 53% of airports planning to implement specific cybersecurity initiatives for mobile devices by 2019,” the report concluded.

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