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ACI issues airport cyber-security guidance during COVID-19 pandemic

The latest ACI bulletin particularly addresses the issue of cyber-security, with many staff now working remotely as part of global efforts to slow the spread of the virus.

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As airports around the world are forced to implement new IT practices due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Airports Council International (ACI) World has issued guidance to help them adjust to these new and unprecedented working practices.

The council’s advisory bulletin – Airport Information Technology recommendations during COVID-19 – provides recommendations to help airports with the transition and in particular, mitigate the risks in cyber-security posed by staff working from home.

COVID-19 has caused unprecedented disruption to aviation, with the rapid decline in traffic as a result of widespread travel restrictions and many countries, across Europe in particular, currently on lockdown. To limit the spread of the virus, airports are reducing onsite staff, including those who work in IT, to essential personnel only. They are adopting emergency HR measures and increasing the use of online collaborative tools and remote working to ensure business continuity.

“A key aspect for airports, especially with larger numbers of staff accessing IT systems remotely, is the implementation of cyber-resilience for business continuity,” commented Director General of ACI World, Angela Gittens.

“It is imperative for airports to have up-to-date cyber-security policies and procedures which should be made available and apply to not only the IT and cyber-security personnel, but the workforce in general.”

The bulletin provides guidance on cyber-security, building a strong collaborative team, ensuring effective and secure IT infrastructure for remote access and establishing a common information sharing approach. It also covers the deployment of innovative technologies and solutions for autonomous operations. While it includes information on shutting-down systems, it also explores how airports will need to plan to bring them back up and restore them to full capacity.

“Airports are currently focused on ensuring business continuity, but they will hopefully soon be considering how to manage the business impact in preparation for recovery and to accelerate growth,” Gittens added. 

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