With digital threats to air traffic on the rise, the aviation-connectivity specialist Satcom Direct has unveiled a series of linked cybersecurity offerings for aviation customers. The 20-year-old American-headquartered firm, which has an office in Dubai South, leverages its expertise in securing military and government networks to protect its business aviation clients, who now make up around 70% of its client base.

"Exposure to the military market has meant we've gone through the whole exercise of becoming experts, and can funnel that back down to our product-development team, to make sure that the product offering we come out with is based on all the experience we have had on these networks," says Michale Skou Christensen, the company's vice president for international business.

"There is a direct line between much of what we are learning, and have learned, in the military market, and what we bring to the private-aviation market."

At the company's booth in the Dubai Airshow exhibition this week, SD is highlighting its three-pronged approach to providing digital security for aviation users - be they private or government entities. The company's free Cyber Smart Kit helps educate users on the risks, and offers advice to help mitigate them.

Its Cyber Security Solutions product includes an on-site risk assessment, from which a tailored set of applications can be deployed. All users have access to the SD Private Network - a secure, monitored data backbone that keeps users' systems off the public internet.

A key differentiator of the SD offering is that the company seeks not to secure the devices on board the aircraft, but to extend the protective bubble to the aircraft itself.

"The biggest problem the corporate aviation market is facing - and we see this internationally, including in the Middle East - is that the IT department sees the airplane as a black box," Christensen says. "The traditional way of defending was on a device level. That meant you tried to secure every device that people brought onto the airplane - but with private aviation you will never be 100% guaranteed who walks on, and what they walk on with.

“We can extend your private network onto the airplane, and apply threat monitoring and threat avoidance at an airplane level - which, up until we did it, was never really offered. So our approach is to secure the airplane, not the devices - because once you have a secure airplane, whatever's inside it, we will control that."