Since 2001, airline services have had to meet some of the strictest security standards of any industry. In response to U.S. Homeland Security’s demands to keep travelers safe against hostile forces, airlines have increased their physical security protocols — from thorough body scans of every passenger to flight risk assessment training for all flight crews. In theory, it has never been safer to travel by air.
However, COVID-19 has made digital security the latest and most pressing concern for airlines and air travel services around the country. So, let’s take a closer look at the relationship between COVID-19, digital security, and the airline industry.
COVID-19 and Digital Security
While it’s evident that the Coronavirus pandemic has affected the physical safety of travelers, it’s more difficult to assess its impact on digital security for both individuals and large organizations. That said, upon closer inspection, one can see that cybersecurity threats have only become more prevalent under the pandemic. First and foremost, COVID-19 is forcing thousands of organizations to transition their staff to remote work. Without proper implementation of the cybersecurity protocols outlined by the AICPA, service organizations, their workers, and their customers are put at greater risk of experiencing a cybersecurity attack.
Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced many countries — including the United States — to divert funds toward vaccines and preventative measures for public health and safety. At the same time, private organizations have been mandated to implement health measures for both workers and consumers, potentially diverting funds and attention away from cybersecurity. The complete focus on public safety opens the door for cybercriminals to access sensitive data and undermine digital security for airline service organizations.
Finally, cloud-based storage and data management has become ubiquitous in nearly every industry; airline services are no exception. While cloud-based systems are not inherently unsafe, they do open the door for even more digital security threats going forward. The onset of COVID-19 has only exacerbated the problem, at a time when the threat of cybersecurity attacks was already at an all-time high. As a result, airlines and airline software programs are moving to acquire SOC 2 certification from 3rd party companies, in order to follow the best cybersecurity practices.
Airline Services Move to Quickly Tighten Digital Security
The global pandemic has had an unprecedented impact on the travel industry. Airlines, in particular, are struggling to stay afloat amid lockdowns and increasingly stringent public safety mandates. Moreover, the transition to cloud-based systems over the past few years has exposed airlines — and their travelers — to greater risks in the realm of cybersecurity. As a result, more and more airlines are moving to secure SOC certification as quickly as possible.
It’s not just airlines that are tightening digital security, either. Air travel services and vendors also have to ensure the safety of their user data and invest in greater cybersecurity, despite reduced revenue and the uncertain future of the industry. For example, FlightDocs, a company that provides cloud-based flight department management solutions, earned SOC 2 Certification as early as October of 2019 — several months before anyone knew about the COVID-19 pandemic. Subsequently, dozens of major airlines and air travel service organizations have moved to increase digital security and achieve SOC compliance in light of the pandemic.
In the era of COVID-19, the future remains uncertain. Though vaccines are slowly being rolled out as economies start on the road to recovery, there are still many uncertainties — especially in the digital sphere. Domestic and international travel will not fully recover for years, leaving many airlines and air travel service organizations with limited funds to invest in cybersecurity. Fortunately, some aviation companies are being proactive about their digital security, giving travelers and consumers greater peace of mind during a very stressful and complicated time.