Surveying Aviation Professionals on the Security of the Air Traffic Control System

  • Martin StrohmeierEmail author
  • Anna K. Niedbala
  • Matthias Schäfer
  • Vincent Lenders
  • Ivan Martinovic
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 11552)


In this paper, we report findings from an exploratory study concerning the security of 15 different wireless technologies used in aviation. 242 aviation professionals and experts from 24 different countries completed an on-line questionnaire about their use and perceptions of each of these technologies. We examine the respondents’ familiarity with and reliance on each technology, with particular regard to their security. Furthermore, we analyse respondents’ perceptions of the possible impact of a wireless attack on the air traffic control system, from both a safety and a business point of view. We deepen these insights with statistical analysis comparing five different stakeholder groups: pilots, air traffic controllers, aviation authorities, aviation engineers, and private pilots.


Aviation security Air traffic control Survey Transportation systems 



We thank Rui Pinheiro for his input on the survey design and all things air traffic control and Kasper B. Rasmussen for his point of view as a private pilot.


  1. 1.
    Avionics, P.: What are the Biggest Threats to Airlines? January 2018.
  2. 2.
    Christensen, R.H.B.: Ordinal: Regression Models for Ordinal Data (2018). R package version 2018.4-19:
  3. 3.
    Costin, A., Francillon, A.: Ghost is in the air(traffic): on insecurity of ADS-B protocol and practical attacks on ADS-B devices. In: Black Hat USA, pp. 1–12, July 2012Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Kirschbaum, J.: Urgent need for DOD and FAA to address risks and improve planning for technology that tracks military aircraft. Technical report GAO-18-177, US Government Accountability Office, January 2018Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Polstra, P., Polly, C.: Cyber-hijacking airplanes: truth or fiction? Presented at DEFCON 22, Las Vegas, USA, August 2014Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    R Core Team: R: A Language and Environment for Statistical Computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing. Vienna (2017).
  7. 7.
    Silva, S.S., Jensen, L., Hansman Jr., R.J.: Safety benefit of automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast traffic and weather uplink services. J. Aerosp. Inf. Syst. 12(8), 579–586 (2015)Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Skoglund, R.: Perceived information security in the maritime sector. Master’s thesis, Norwegian University of Science and Technology (2017)Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Strohmeier, M., Schäfer, M., Pinheiro, R., Lenders, V., Martinovic, I.: On perception and reality in wireless air traffic communication security. IEEE Trans. Intell. Transp. Syst. 18(6), 1338–1357 (2017)Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Viveros, C.A.P.: Analysis of the cyber attacks against ADS-B perspective of aviation experts. Master’s thesis, University of Tartu (2016)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Martin Strohmeier
    • 1
    Email author
  • Anna K. Niedbala
    • 1
  • Matthias Schäfer
    • 2
  • Vincent Lenders
    • 3
  • Ivan Martinovic
    • 1
  1. 1.University of OxfordOxfordUK
  2. 2.University of KaiserslauternKaiserslauternGermany
  3. 3.armasuisseThunSwitzerland

Personalised recommendations