This is the first in a series of Holland & Knight alerts about the new Cybersecurity Roadmap announced by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) on Dec. 4, 2018. The Roadmap covers other transportation sectors as well.
In unveiling its new Cybersecurity Roadmap (Roadmap), the TSA makes it clear for the first time ever that it has direct oversight of cybersecurity for all seven sectors that are part of the Transportation Systems Sector (TSS): aviation, highway and motor carrier, maritime, mass transit and passenger rail, pipeline systems, freight rail, and postal and shipping. The Roadmap discusses the urgent nature of the threat, stating that "the transportation systems' cyber environment and its underlying infrastructure are vulnerable to a wide range of risks stemming from both physical and cyber threats and hazards." It is also the first major public declaration by TSA that it has oversight of both cybersecurity and physical security and states that "The proliferation of technology presents cybersecurity challenges and leads to significant national risks."
TSA makes it that it is "responsible for the cybersecurity of the TSS sectors and [will] support it through several activities" and discusses a collaborative role working with the DHS Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA.) The Roadmap, supports the priority issues areas identified by the White House National Cyber Strategy, which specifically cited the transportation sector and aviation as an area of concern. It also reinforces the broad risks identified in the recently released U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Cybersecurity Strategy.
The Roadmap outlines multiple cybersecurity priorities which clearly define that TSA will be proactively working with the aviation sector:
TSA states that it has the responsibility to assess, prioritize and protect the aviation and other transportation subsectors.1 The report lists a series of new actions that make it clear that the aviation industry is expected to fully participate. TSA will focus on:
TSA also makes clear that it will use all necessary tools including not hesitating to "utilize its statutory and regulatory authorities to ensure the resilience of the TSS." Working with government and industry stakeholders it will also:
The Roadmap is not limited to just domestic oversight, TSA is also very clear that it intends to broaden its federal and international efforts to strengthen the cybersecurity of the aviation ecosystem.11 It is important to note that this may be the second-largest international aviation security effort since 9/11. The TSA effort will create new international aviation cybersecurity efforts that will include:
The Roadmap indicates that TSA will work to leverage existing DHS capabilities and authorities in the cybersecurity arena and makes clear that it will be the primary agency overseeing cybersecurity for the aviation sector.
It is notable that the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) also rolled out a Cybersecurity Strategy recently, and for the first time, included a priority focus on its role to protect privately owned Critical Infrastructure sectors. Aviation, both passenger and cargo, have always played a critical role in our nation's domestic and national security needs, and should expect to see an increased role coming from DoD as well as DHS and TSA. The report explicitly states:
"The Department seeks to preempt, defeat, or deter malicious cyber activity targeting U.S. critical infrastructure that could cause a significant cyber incident regardless of whether that incident would impact DoD's warfighting readiness or capability. Our primary role in this homeland defense mission is to defend forward by leveraging our focus outward to stop threats before they reach their targets. The Department also provides public and private sector partners with indications and warning (I&W) of malicious cyber activity, in coordination with other Federal departments and agencies."
Congressional concerns over cyber risk to the aviation sector have existed for some time. On Sept. 6, 2018, the House Homeland Security Committee held one of the first hearings focused on cyber risk to aviation entitled "Understanding Cybersecurity Threats to America's Aviation Sector." The hearing focused on known cyber threats to the industry, how it is managing the risks and what is being known to manage known vulnerabilities. Incoming House Homeland Security Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) stated at the time, "When it comes to physical security at our airports and our airplanes, we impose strict requirements designed to keep bad actors, explosives, and other illicit materials out. But there are no equivalent cybersecurity standards."
Current Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Protection Subcommittee Chairman John Ratcliffe (R-Texas) focused on the changing nature of security risks to the industry stating, "However, as devices, aircraft, and systems become more interconnected, cybersecurity will increasingly play a larger role in aviation security. Because nation states, cyber criminals, and "hacktivists," all possess an incentive to manipulate systems within the sector." Incoming Cybersecurity Subcommittee Chairman Cedric Richmond (D-La.) stated: "We have invested heavily in securing airplanes and airports against the kinds of attacks perpetrated by the 9/11 terrorists. But the threat landscape has evolved, and our adversaries have changed. Those who wish to do us harm have new tools at their disposal – giving them the ability to target aviation systems without stepping foot in an airport and without clear lines of attribution."
1 Goal 1.1
3 Objective 1.1.1
5 Goal 2.2
6 Objective 2.2.2
7 Objective 2.2.5
8 Objective 4.2.1
9 Objective 3.1.2
10 Objective 3.1.1
11 Goal 4.1
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