The aviation sector is particularly vulnerable to cyber risk and “risk management professionals need to bring focus to this issue” − Willis


The aviation industry is lagging behind in terms of its response and readiness to the threat posed by cyber criminality, according to Willis Group head of cyber strategy Peter Armstrong.

The aviation industry’s under-preparedness is noteworthy in a sector that abhors uncertainty and works tirelessly to eradicate it, Armstrong said at the Willis-IATA-AAPA Aviation Insurance conference in Hong Kong today.

He added that the recent launch of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics cyber security framework is an important step to improving cyber security standards, supported by the International Air Transport Association aviation cyber security tool kit.

However, he warned that regulators, manufacturers and operators are only now waking up to the pervasive nature of cyber threats.

He said: “We remain concerned that cyber risk is not viewed as a significant enabler, amplifier or accelerator of existing risk in the portfolio, as well as discrete cyber risk posed for example through use of cloud technologies. This is a board room issue representing a sophisticated challenge to sophisticated organisations.

“Risk management professionals need to bring a focus to this issue and represent it to their boards as a significant extension of existing risk as well as an incremental risk to their businesses.

“Although we believe this is predominantly a risk management issue, the insurance industry has a role to play. The industry must ensure that it has the appropriate solutions on offer not only to help companies deal with the financial fallout from cyber breaches, but also to recognise the significant effect cyber has on existing categories of risk and respond with appropriate risk transfer solutions.”

He added: “The aviation sector is particularly vulnerable to aggregated risk consequent on cyber vulnerabilities because there is such heavy reliance on digital capability and the high degree of integration in a sophisticated supply chain.

“Vulnerability and weakness in any part of the supply chain can, and does, have significant consequences on the safety and effectiveness of the whole.”