PHOTO: Kai Stachowiak.

There is no doubt that online attacks are becoming increasingly frequent, but as if that wasn’t bad enough, they are also posing greater threats to people and property. In the past, security threats were mainly aimed at causing mischief, but in recent years, there has been a huge upswing in the number of potentially dangerous threats.

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These threats could bring down infrastructure with just one viral attack, and in the airline industry, the losses could be catastrophic. Many universities around the nation like the New Jersey Institute of Technology now have a high area of concentration in their computer science graduate degrees on cybersecurity, and of high importance is, of course, the airline industry.

A Comparative Look at Cybersecurity Risks between Industries

In a recent survey mentioned on the PWC website, cybersecurity is a major concern among 85% of airline CEOs as opposed to only 61% of CEOs in all other industries. This 24-point differential is huge when you think of all the risks airlines face, even from a single attack. While some of the risks are similar, the airline industry has an increased potential for widescale loss of life. While students of programs like the one at NJIT online learn to assess and prevent cybersecurity risks such as breach of customer data, the airline industry has larger fish to fry, as the old saying goes.

Specific Threats of Concern within the Airline Industry

While every business is a potential target when it comes to hacking personal information of customers, consider for a moment taking that threat to a new level. Not only is contact information accessible but a hacker who wants to do serious harm to a group of traveling diplomats, for example, can easily access their flight itinerary to see where they will be and when.

Imagine what terrorists could do with this information. While they may be looking to target individuals and groups on the ground by knowing their destination, they may seek to do even greater harm by hacking into the aircraft controls. Everyone aboard the plane could be at risk.

Fear of Flying Still at Heightened Levels

Ever since 9/11, millions of people around the globe are literally terrified of flying. Even with heightened security at airports around the world, today’s passengers know that cyber threats are a very real possibility. Passengers are no longer simply worried about bomb-wielding maniacs but are now concerned with computer geeks who have nefarious intentions. One threat, even if avoided due to diligent cybersecurity, could cause airlines billions of dollars in lost revenue.

A Meaningful Career

No, money is not as important as human life, but in the real world, airlines need to make a profit or ground their planes. Anyone seeking a graduate degree in computer science would do well to focus on cybersecurity because this is a growing threat across the board. Individuals, as well as organizations in all sectors, are at risk. As each new threat is addressed, a new one comes from another direction and some of them make the Russian hack on the 2016 elections look like child’s play in comparison.

Airline cybersecurity is a lucrative field, but more importantly, it is a meaningful career that could potentially save millions of lives and billions of dollars. That’s a career you can truly feel good about at the end of the day.