Head of Digital Content, Aviation

June 21, 2017

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IFSEC 2017

We’re making life too easy for terrorists – former IATA chief

Governments around the world are “making life too easy” for terrorists, the former head of security for airline body IATA has said.

Speaking at a panel on border security at IFSEC 2017, John Hedley said current regulations are making conditions more difficult for passengers, but not criminals.

“There is no international database for list or stolen passports,” he said. “Governments don’t share that data, so if you have a stolen passport you can use it in any country except your own. Sadly terrorists don’t conform to the niceties of data protection.”

“Governments have a list of people on a watchlist. But they do not have the resources to watch them. But if you knew they were travelling you could prioritise them – it would make life difficult for the bad guy.

“But governments won’t share the data. It’s not rocket science – the technology is there but the political will is not.”

Risk-based security

Fellow panellist Ian Hutcheson OBE, a former police officer and current security advisor at L3, agreed that the current procedures must be improved.

“The appetite for risk in government has diminished rapidly,” he said.

“Following 9/11 the EU implemented competency for aviation security for its member states, but it allows individual member states to put more stringent measures in place. The UK, being the UK, has more stringent measures than anyone else.”

“100% of the passengers are subjected to 100% of the security measures. Probably 99% of them pose no risk whatsoever. We could use data to assess risk – we’ve suggested to governments that they use risk-based systems.”

Although conceding that the issue was highly contentious, Ellie Hurst, marketing manager of Advent IM, queried the “dichotomy” in data usage.

“Why is it fine for people to buy an app which knows everything about you, but it’s not fine for governments to profile for security?”

Combining physical and data

Hurst also stated her belief that “there is a great marriage which is needed between cyber security and the physical world”.

The attacks in Lodz, Poland, where a teenager was able to hack the automated tram system causing injuries, is evidence of this, she said.

“This was a cyber attack that caused real physical harm,” she said. “But it was facilitated by poor physical security – the hacker was able to gain access to the system at a place which should have been secured.”

“There has never been a better time for us all to work together.”

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