Strengthening Aviation Cybersecurity with Security Operations Centres


  • Wesley Murisa North-West University
  • Marijke Coetzee North-West University



Critical infrastructure, Aviation, Air traffic management (ATM), Security operations centre (SOC)


Even though cybersecurity is a top priority for the aviation industry, research indicates that there are still many challenges to address. Modern aviation systems encompass cloud computing, OT, IoT, mobile devices, and traditional IT infrastructure. The network complexity has expanded the attack surface, leading to an increase in security incidents. Due to this complexity, detecting security incidents on time is challenging. Research indicates that it may take up to 196 days to detect an incident and another 56 days to address it, highlighting the urgency of improving security response. In this regard, establishing Security Operations Centres (SOCs) in the aviation sector must be addressed. SOCs can be instrumental in reducing the time it takes to detect and respond to security incidents. They provide visibility into threats, aid investigations, and enhance forensic efforts, enabling proactive threat mitigation. Research has been carried out on SOC implementations for specific domains like IoT, mobile devices, and higher education, neglecting aviation systems. Aviation systems such as Air Traffic Management (ATM) face unique security vulnerabilities, including signal modification, jamming, flooding, data and command injection, GPS spoofing, and blocking attacks, primarily due to their reliance on wireless technology. Most of these wireless technologies do not use encryption or authentication because they were designed to maximise performance. Insufficient funding also negatively affects ATM systems, resulting in the wide use of legacy ATM systems and a shortage of skilled personnel. ATM systems are considered critical infrastructure frequently targeted by well-resourced threat actors, including terrorists and nation-state actors, necessitating higher protection levels. This paper motivates the development of a customised SOC implementation framework for ATM systems to enhance aviation security by increasing visibility into threats and facilitating timely remediation.

Author Biographies

Wesley Murisa, North-West University

Wesley Murisa is a PhD student at the North-West University.

Marijke Coetzee, North-West University

Marijke Coetzee is a C2 NRF-rated researcher and has been appointed as a Professor at the School
for Computer Science and Information Systems, North-West University. Her expertise lies in
cybersecurity research. She has published more than 70 peer-reviewed journals and conference