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Research: Only Three Top International Airports Pass Basic Cybersecurity Checks

A cybersecurity firm conducted basic testing on the top 100 airports’ public websites and mobile apps. No U.S. airports passed it, and only three European airports did.

A strikingly low number of the world’s top 100 international airports pass basic cybersecurity checks -- and none of them are in the United States, according to research published by cybersecurity firm ImmuniWeb.

Only three European airports were able to pass all of the security tests undertaken by the firm, including cybersecurity checks on their websites, official mobile apps and any issues with where sensitive data (including passenger information) was stored that could lead to leaks on the dark web.

Those airports are the Dublin International Airport in Ireland, the Amsterdam Schiphol Airport in the Netherlands, and the Helsinki Vantaa Airport in Finland.

Among the most startling findings from the report are that 97 percent of public airport websites contain outdated web software, and that 100 percent of their mobile apps contained at least five external software frameworks and at least two known vulnerabilities. An average of fifteen security or privacy issues were detected on each app.

These issues “could be credibly exploited to attack an airport authority, obtain a foothold on vulnerable systems, and then infiltrate an airport's internal network,” according to ZDNet.

The tech website pointed to attempted cyber attacks on Ukraine’s largest airport by Russian hackers and a cyber attack on the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport that took down WiFi services in 2018.

In addition to software issues, 66 percent of airports are exposed on the dark web, and 72 out of the 325 exposures discovered are of a critical or high risk indicating a serious breach, according to ImmuniWeb’s findings.

Ilia Kolochenko, the CEO and founder of ImmuniWeb, said in a statement that the findings were concerning for any traveler who has used a public airport website or WiFi network.

“Given how many people and organizations entrust their data and lives to international airports every day, these findings are quite alarming,” Kolochenko said. “Cybercriminals may well consider attacking the unwitting air hubs to conduct chain attacks of the travelers or cargo traffic, as well as aiming attacks at the airports directly to disrupt critical national infrastructure.”

About the Author

Haley Samsel is an Associate Content Editor for the Infrastructure Solutions Group at 1105 Media.

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