Advocacy group asks FAA for cybersecurity details

A public interest group wants the Federal Aviation Administration to disclose information on the agency's efforts to protect air safety data from thieves, hackers and cyberterrorists.

Americans for Safer Air Travel (ASAT), a newly formed advocacy group for passengers and air travel employees, filed a Freedom of Information Act request for nonclassified information on steps the FAA has taken to guard information technology systems. The systems of concern contain air traffic control reports, radar analyses and other security-related data, according to ASAT.

The request, which ASAT filed Aug. 16, also seeks records on the number and frequency of attacks into those systems since Sept. 11, 2001.

After a data breach at the Department of Veterans Affairs and two laptop PC thefts at the Transportation Department's Miami regional Office of the Inspector General, ASAT is raising questions about the FAA's policies on taking laptop computers away from secured FAA facilities.

“As people who fly on airplanes, it struck us that travelers and even airline employees should get an updated picture of FAA cybersecurity precautions,” ASAT spokesman Jared Leopold said. “We didn’t see anyone else pressing for details right now, but it sure seemed timely.

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