Airlines responding to concerns over IT security according to Sita survey

WASHINGTON/ GENEVA – 11 March 2008 – The results of the second annual SITA Global Airline IT Security Survey, undertaken with 152 of the world’s airlines in late 2007, show that 83% feel increased pressure to respond to IT security threats. This is a rise on the high of 80% recorded in the previous year. According to the security survey, airlines are responding to these challenges by creating dedicated security management teams which are now operational at 63% of the respondent airlines, up from 55% in 2006. There is also a significant shift to using the specialist services of third parties with outsourcing as a priority, rising from 22% in 2006 to 36% of respondents in 2007. Reasons cited for this increased concern about IT security include the overall growth in passenger numbers, the migration to IP-enabled networks and the expanded use of open systems to facilitate self-service. 74% of the respondents acknowledged that the migration to IP-based networks increases exposure to security breaches which need to be addressed.

The use of open systems as more self-service offerings are made available is a trend that is set to continue. Over half of the airlines surveyed in the SITA 2007 Airline IT Trends Survey offer check-in over the web and 89% expect to offer it within the next two years. By then, 52% of airlines are planning to offer self-boarding and 76% plan to implement mobile phone check-in. Each of these services adds new layers to the physical and IT security equation, increases security risks and poses the challenge to deliver secure services in a fast and efficient manner.

Mark Prince, Head of Consulting for Security, Voice and Convergence at SITA said: “Clearly airlines are taking significant steps to respond to network-related security threats as demonstrated by the rise in dedicated security teams and outsourcing to trusted third parties.

“Here at SITA, we have observed the trend to outsource as airlines recognize the specialized focus that is required in this area. We anticipate further outsourcing in 2008 as the pressures of system consolidation and integration from the adoption of new technology, and increasing passenger numbers, continue to rise.”

Though the overall level of network security-related pressure has increased, there are changes in specific areas over the past year. Since last year’s report the priority placed on both e-ticketing and IP migration has reduced somewhat, down from 63% and 49%, to 56% and 44% respectively, suggesting that these elements of Air Transport Industry technology strategy are starting to mature.

The Global Airline IT Security survey also examined the level of IT budgets absorbed by security, the results show that though security spending continues to rise, it is at a reduced rate. Last year’s survey predicted budget increases of an average of 4.5% but the actual spend for 2007 was 4.2%. For 2008, an average increase of 4% is predicted.

The research highlights a number of issues that should prove valuable to airline businesses looking to refine security strategy over the next 12-24 months. The findings will also help readers to benchmark their company security strategy and concerns against those of their peers in the market.


Source: SITA
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