Are pilots prepared for a cyber-attack? A human factors approach to the experimental evaluation of pilots' behavior

The increasing prevalence of technology in modern airliners brings not just advantages, but also the potential for cyber threats. Fortunately, there have been no significant attacks on civil aircraft to date, which allows the handling of these emerging threats to be approached proactively. Although an ample body of research into technical defense strategies exists, current research neglects to take the human operator into account. In this study, the authors present an exploratory experiment focusing on pilots confronted with a cyber-attack. Results show that the occurrence of an attack affects all dependent variables: pilots' workload, trust, eye-movements, and behavior. Pilots experiencing an attack report heavier workload and weakened trust in the system than pilots whose aircraft is not under attack. Further, pilots who experienced an attack monitored basic flying instruments less and their performance deteriorated. A warning about a potential attack seems to moderate several of those effects. The authors' analysis prompts them to recommend incorporating cyber-awareness into pilots' recurrent training; the authors also argue that one has to consider all affected personnel when designing such training. Future research should target the development of appropriate procedures and training techniques to prepare pilots to correctly identify and respond to cyber-attacks.


  • English

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  • Accession Number: 01672283
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Jun 19 2018 9:33AM