Cybersecurity Resilience in the Aerospace & Defense Sector

The Aerospace & Defense market is extremely technology-oriented, and its operations are highly digitized in nature. In the defense vertical, advancements in information technology combined with AI-based upgrades to existing weapons and surveillance & reconnaissance systems have led to increased reliance on enhanced cybersecurity solutions. The complexity of their digital systems and solutions, as well as the sensitive nature of their daily operations, make the aerospace & defense sector a viable target for cybercriminals.

Cybersecurity in the Aerospace & Defense Sector

The unprecedented evolution in technology has made the aerospace and defense industry more vulnerable to cyber-attacks. The attackers in this sector are usually a part of advanced persistent threat (APT) groups. Such groups are highly sophisticated and collect information to target the intellectual property of other nations in order to advance their own defense systems. These attackers also sell the information or the technological advancements in the global arms market as well and are therefore considered dangerous. Governments and public organizations are now investing more in cybersecurity software technology in aerospace and defense in order to improve their products & services. Preserving the autonomy of spaceflight and developing cutting-edge aviation technologies are two drivers for this increase in cybersecurity investment.

Cybersecurity investments in the aerospace & defense market are therefore increasing rapidly as nations covertly target each other for geopolitical gain. The Asia Pacific region is a key market for cybersecurity solutions as many nations from this region—Japan, India, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, and the United Arab Emirates—are working towards modernizing their military and defense capabilities with new technologies.

Challanges to Air and Defence Sector

As technology advances in the aerospace sector, it is critical to bolstering protection against cyberattacks. Any successful cyberattack in this segment could lead to the lives of millions of people being impacted negatively. With this in mind, many governments are investing in new technologies such as blockchain to strengthen their security stance. Governments are also taking steps to thwart illegal access to their advanced weaponry and related information by incorporating blockchain technology into existing data systems.

It is evident that the aerospace and defense industry heavily relies on the usage of huge chunks of data. Big Data analytics aids the aerospace industry by analyzing and advancing real-time mission-critical data. Data accuracy and reliability are essential for quick decision-making are critical and hence need to be incorporated efficiently into the defense applications.

A major challenge in the aerospace & defense segment is its complex and highly distributed supply chain. The high interdependence between supply chain components leads to easy accessibility for multiple organizations, and any leak could weaken the entire supply chain. A single well-executed cyberattack could disrupt the entire system.

Emerging Cyber Threats

In the aerospace and defense industry cyber-attacks such as WannaCry and NotPetya have been well known because of the vulnerabilities caused via software and airline platforms. Some of the common cyber threats currently include ransomware attacks, phishing attacks, insider threats, DDoS attacks, and Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs). These cyber-attacks steal critical information on budget, equipment maintenance records, product designs, production processes, personally identifiable information, etc. The aircraft systems which are most vulnerable to cyber-attacks are:

  • Flight Maintenance System
  • Navigation System
  • Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting Systems
  • In-Flight Entertainment Devices
  • Aircraft IP Networks
  • Digital Air Traffic Controls
  • Traffic Management Systems
  • Screen and Audio Capture
  • Attack on command-and-control infrastructure

Growth Initiators for Cybersecurity in Defense Sector

Following are the key factors for the growth of cybersecurity solutions in the defense sector:

  • Investments in cloud security solutions for advanced battlefield management
  • Data protection
  • Wireless security solutions
  • Network security
  • Use of Zero Trust Approach
  • Re-embracing the usage of digital twin technology to strengthen cyber resilience
  • Investments in R&D to improve cybersecurity frameworks with improved communication standards such as 5G

The major goal of the defense sector is to ensure the security of the country, its civilians, enterprises, infrastructure, and government authorities. To meet this goal, the sector is heavily regulated and is currently dominated by giant multinationals under intense scrutiny from governments. Its systems are widespread and require cybersecurity solutions that are immune to the ever-growing threat of large-scale cyberattacks.


Most nations have realized the potential threats of compromised defense networks and are therefore rapidly transitioning from network edge defense to data defense. For instance, The US Air Force is aggressively incorporating the Zero Trust Approach (ZTA) to protect its data and improve mission agility and mobility. The ZTA is based on open-source container-orchestration systems such as Kubernetes to improve cybersecurity across automated systems.

The dependency on the Internet by the aerospace & defense sector has increased, and so has the frequency of sophisticated and organized cyberattacks. Therefore, these organizations should focus on advanced cloud computing solutions, operating systems, and virtual machine technologies aided by highly reliable and unbreachable software systems that mitigate cyberattacks from malicious elements.

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