Transport Security Expo focuses on current and future industry challenges at forthcoming event

Transport Security Expo, the annual gathering of professionals within the aviation, maritime and public transport arenas, convenes again 13-14 November 2013, against a backdrop of the industry being at a developmental crossroads in terms of both its regulation and ability to respond to current and emerging threats.

This key event will gather policy makers, world leading experts, technologists and industry operators together in London, to examine current protective measures, assess the threat horizon and determine how best to maintain traveler safety in a changing and increasingly hostile world in austere economic times.

Through an in-depth conference, extensive programme of workshops and by way of a world-class exhibition, delegates and visitors will immerse themselves in the challenges transport operators face in maintaining high levels of security and the solutions to them, during a two-day event held at the Olympia Conference and Exhibition Centre.

For the first time in its long history as the premier gathering for industry professionals, the event introduces the “Major Threats to Transport Security” plenary session this year. This entirely new addition to an already extensive programme has been developed to clearly identify overarching threats common across all transport interests and foster convergence of thought.

Transport Security Expo’s plenary session will deliver a ‘360° Global Threat Assessment’.

The session is open to all delegates attending the event and features debate on how best to manage the risk to transport networks from terrorism and other crimes, discussion on protecting national and global transport systems from acts of terrorism and other security threats as well as discourse regarding the extent of the cyber security threat to transport industries.

Cyber Security
Transport Security Expo has identified that the industry wide problem of cyber security is becoming acute, thus the prominence being afforded this issue during the forthcoming event.

The transport industries depend on information technology and would likely grind to a halt without ready access to data required for day-to-day operations. This imposes a requirement that the systems deployed across the transport networks are both robust and secure.

The traditional approach to cyber security has been to focus most resources on the crucial system components and protect against the biggest known threats. This approach is insufficient in the interconnected world of today, where a much more holistic approach to cyber security across transport networks is absolutely vital.

Cyber security should be at the top of the agenda issue across the transport world but perhaps most particularly in the aviation sector. Next generation aircraft currently being introduced into service are e-enabled via secure Internet Protocol (IP) communication channels passing data back and forth between ground and on-board systems.

Currently the Airbus A380 and the Boeing 787 are the only e-enabled commercial aircraft in service, but the coming Bombardier CSeries and the Airbus A350 will also adopt this feature. Real time direct communication allows airlines to directly monitor aircraft health, pass relevant operational information to air crew and enable such like as e-commerce in the air.

Such systems also provide an interface with a piece of equipment known as the Electronic Flight Bag (EFB). This is a series of software tools that allow pilots to automate tasks such as weight and balance, along with allowing pilots to track routes with weather overlays. It’s estimated that 30,000 laptop or tablet computer EFB’s are used in North America alone.

Concern is high that EFB connectivity could deliver a path for malicious code to enter into airborne systems aboard e-enabled aircraft. The airline industry cyber security consultancy firm AvIntel says that 80% of airlines recently surveyed have an active EFB programme running, but only 40% have an active EFB cyber security plan in place.

Given that ubiquitous connectivity for EFB’s means the devices are constantly sniffing for a signal, it is possible for these devices to compromised if pilots go online over public internet connections to download information prior to flight.

It has become very evident over recent years that terrestrial networks are easily compromised; therefore the aviation industry needs to pay close attention to aircraft that have network connectivity.

Transport industries collectively also owe it to themselves to ensure that the information technology they depend so upon, has a sufficient level of redundancy built in to limit downtime and aid prompt recovery in the event of a cyber attack or hardware failure.

Two of biggest airline carriers in the United States, American and Southwest, have suffered major outages during this past year, which have grounded flights, caused chaos at airports across the country and taken costly time to recover from.

Threat Within

A recent US Government Accountability Office (GAO) study reported a worrying 26% increase over three years in Transportation Security Administration (TSA) personnel transgressions considered to be a security threat.

The issues highlighted ranged from sleeping on the job, through allowing friends and family members to pass freely at screening to theft of in transit traveler property.

The property theft briefly captured headlines after a TSA employee was captured on film stealing from baggage in the mêlée following the San Francisco (SFO) air crash in which three people died and multiple other passengers were seriously injured.

Separately, when fire engulfed Kenya’s Jomo Kenyata International Airport (NBO) in early August, some airport personnel grasped an opportunity to indulge in widespread looting.

Police, airport security and random other airport personnel reportedly engaged in the looting spree while the fire raged. Multiple people across all disciplines have been arrested and are facing charges.

Transport Security Expo has warned of the insider threat previously and continues to monitor this worrying upward trend in activity such as highlighted above.

The insider threat has the potential to compromise other defenses in place at airports, ports and other border crossings and could very well open the door to further terrorist activity.

It is a here and now issue which demands immediate action before it escalates to critical and potentially life threatening proportion.

Regional Warnings

INTERPOL issued a global security alert in early August advising increased vigilance for terrorist activity, following a series of prison escapes across multiple member countries, in which well over a thousand individuals with links to terrorist organizations fled.

Concern has been expressed that these apparently coordinated escapes may be a precursor to an upswing in jihadist attacks across the Middle East and North Africa.

Some parts of this region have been in a state of turmoil since the uprisings of recent years and consequently have weakened or diminished counterterrorism capabilities, border control mechanisms, internal security priorities, and other shortcomings.

The rise of new or transitional governments in Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen, and Libya, and ongoing unrest in Syria and Mali, have offered new opportunities for established affiliates to the likes of al-Qa’ida, other aspiring terrorist groups, and like-minded individuals to conduct attacks against western interests across the region.

Transport Security Expo will bring attention to the regional threats faced by the maritime and supply chain sectors when it convenes again in November.

A rise in terrorist activity directly or indirectly targeted at the maritime sector could have serious consequence on Western economies which are heavily dependent upon uninterrupted energy supplies from the region as well as unfettered access to seaways such as the strategically vital Suez.

The maritime sector is also battling another issue, which threatens to undermine previously close cooperation on acts of piracy between naval and merchant marine assets.

It is estimated that some 60% of commercial carriers now employ armed guards and this is said to be one of the factors that has led to a dramatic fall in the number of reported incidents of piracy.

However, it is thought that vessels employing private security are engaged in widespread underreporting of attempted pirate attacks for a variety of reasons. These include the possible loss of business if cargo owners perceive a particular shipping company or route to be unsafe and the fear of liability in the event of innocent parties being injured or killed.

It is thought that for every two pirate attacks report somewhere in the order of twelve others are not reported to the proper agencies.

Such underreporting significantly degrades the ability to collect accurate intelligence on the movement of pirates and deliver meaningful protective cover in the event of an attack.

Border Controls
INTERPOL’s recent global security alert came just prior to a critical report on the state of UK border controls at overseas entry points in Belgium and France being published by John Vine who is the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration.

The report revealed that UK Border Force, the enforcement agency tasked with preventing illegal entry at ports and airports, had not fingerprinted or photographed thousands of illegal immigrants attempting to cross the border at Calais and Coquilles, due to a long running problem with the availability of cells in which to hold them.

This failure has effectively deprived appropriate services of valuable intelligence on those attempting to cross into the UK illegally.

The report also highlighted concerns over the persistent issue of the so-called Lille Loophole through which passengers boarding high-speed trains in Belgium and passing through France remain exempt from United Kingdom immigration checks.

Home Secretary Theresa May has been accused of a politically expedient cover up in redacting certain elements of the report.

Transport Security Expo attendees will discover that effective border controls are a fundamental building block in a multifaceted national security plan combining intelligence and technology to help keep us safe on the road, high seas and in the air.

This globally important event is now in it’s 11th year and delivers thought provoking debate and extensive learning and networking opportunities against the backdrop of one a world leading exhibition of state of the art software and hardware products from vendors from across the globe.

Transport Security Expo will be held at London’s Olympia Conference & Exhibition Centre from 13-14 November 2013.