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Tips on identifying, combating insider threats in aviation

MOST people pass through airports every now and then and they do not know the level of threats that can take place within the airport’s environment both external and internal.

The external threats can be checkmated to a level because of the processes and procedures put in place to wade off intruders from the airports, however,what makes the airport environment vulnerable is the already embedded issue of internal threats, also known as insider threats.

‘Insiders’ are people who work in and around the airport environment having and exploiting knowledge and access of the system be it the airports, the airlines, or an organization for unauthorized and most times personal and selfish purposes.

Insiders can be employees of an airline, airport, contractors, auxiliary government agencies including customs, immigrations, (FAAN, NAMA even NCAA staff) drug enforcement agencies and anyone else who has legitimate access to their organisation’s information or assets.

Of recent, British Airways announced its system was hacked with tens of thousands of clients information compromised and in all reality this kind of access can only have been gotten by an insider or through insider connection.

With access to sensitive data, cyber attacks are just one way an insider can be a threat to the entire system.

There are other ways through which an insider can compromise the sanctity of the system and they may attack in various ways and the British Airways situation is just one of many ways these can happen.

Insiders, because of their access, can sabotage or damage of assets or infrastructure worth millions of dollars including aircraft components, they can facilitate unauthorised third-party access: allowing interlopers into the system to cause damage or steal, unauthorized disclosure of data or information, theft, or even financial corruption.

There are recorded cases in Nigeria where cabin crew ( insiders) have been caught smuggling drugs or other commodities to, or from, their country via aircraft or cargo.

In August 2015, Oliver Chibuzor a catering loader with Arik Air told investigators how they subverted airport security checks by concealing cocaine in catering supplies in collaboration senior cabin crew of same airline, Chika Udensi.

All these goes to show how important vetting and carrying out extensive security checks on whoever works for an airline or organization around the airport is because it shows how dangerous they compromised people can be.

Insiders consist the highest levels of threat in the airport environment due to the fact that they already understand the external security of airports and aviation assets and will be able to exploit their knowledge of these security measures.

In fact, aviation insiders potentially have access to sensitive parts of an airport and are sometimes in a position of trust or given enhanced level of access, which enables them identify vulnerabilities and target the weakest areas within their airport.

Financial gains through criminal activities like petty theft, drug trafficking to sabotaging one’s organization or that of a competitor for a myriad of reasons and more serious fundamentalist reasons like terrorism are key motivators to an insider and so it is quite important to psych evaluate people who work in a particular area of the airport.

How can organizations and authorities combat the insider threat? Truth? There is no ‘ the correct solution’ to the problem according to airport security expert, Director of Strategic Development at Camor Training, David BaMaung in his article Security: The hidden ‘insider’ threat of the aviation sector, dealing with an insider threat it is necessary to adopt a holistic and integrated approach to organisational security.

Constant monitoring of staff activities, behavioral differences can also help. Also, but difficult, is monitoring the lifestyle of staff within the insider radius although sometimes it is difficult to spot due to the character of individual, most times it easily shows with recent forms of flamboyance.

Dealing with insider threat, is like trying to cut out a limb that might end up poisoning the other parts of the body, it is a decision not made lightly but one that must be made so it is better to get prevent people with questionable backgrounds from getting into the system.

Earlier, the article mentioned pre-employment screenings, this may also include extensive background checks on candidates that want to be part of the system.

There is also need to provide redundancy in organizational security, checks that continue to be checked. Developing an ongoing security protocol and enhancing it is one mode of addressing insider threat in any organisation and may go a long way in identifying potential threats before they become full blown ones.

About NigerianFlightDeck

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Nigerianflightdeck is an online news and magazine platform reporting business stories with a bias for aviation and travel. It is borne out of the intention to inform, educate as well as alter perceptions with balanced reportage.

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