Breach of Data at Airbus, the Aircraft Manufacturer

January 31, 2019 was the last working day for the working people in Kuala Lumpur with most of them winding down or leaving overseas or back to their hometown in view of the long weekend and to celebrate the Chinese New Year festival the following week.


Thus we believe, a lot of us also missed several breaking news that came out in the local media with regards to cyber breaches.


First to emerge was this heading - Airbus reports breach into its systems after cyberattack on 31 Jan 2019. In case you don't know, there are two leading manufacturers in the world for commercial airplane and Airbus, based in France is one of them. The other is Boeing, based in the US.


If you were to google on potential attack scenario on the aviation industry, it is generally about the possibility of hackers attacking the aircraft's system, airports or air traffic control systems as air travel become increasingly reliant on digital systems. Rarely you come across an opinion about the potential attack on the aircraft manufacturer itself. But then maybe the scenario of an attack on the aircraft manufacturer is pretty much similar as an attack on any manufacturing organisation.


High efficiency and high quality is an important condition for design and manufacturing of aircraft structural parts to ensure the performance and progress of aircraft manufacturing. It requires the application of a combination of digital technology and structural design in its manufacturing process. Consequently, the supply chain for aerospace is very complex. The manufacturers, in coping with the increased in air travel and orders by airlines are becoming increasingly dependent on the supply chain to cope. And due to the complexity and high safety standards required, the supply chain is not expanding.


Airbus in disclosing the breach said the incident did not affect its commercial operations. Investigations are still ongoing to understand if any specific data was targeted. Opinions from cybersecurity specialists forewarned large organisations about risks from their supply chain. 


In this particular case on Airbus, is it possible for a reverse, i.e., the breach into a large organisation was a ruse to get into the systems of the large and extremely complex supply chain network of an aircraft manufacturer?


Or it could be work of a competitor or a potential new entrant into the commercial aircraft manufacturing attempting to 'steal' confidential design data and research materials?


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