Cybersecurity is a big theme for defence departments and their suppliers. As part of our thematic coverage, we asked GlobalData’s aerospace, defence and security (ADS) analyst team about the impact of cybersecurity on the defence industry.

Lara Virrey: What are the biggest cybersecurity challenges facing defence companies today?  

ADS analysts: The largest cybersecurity challenges facing companies are broken up into two segments, the first is that defence companies who provide cybersecurity solutions, as well as equipment that is vulnerable to cyberattacks have to ensure that they are providing the most up to date solutions, as well as matching the capabilities of adversaries.  

The second challenge is that companies have to ensure that they are themselves prepared for offensive cyberattacks, as the companies are prime targets for enemy states looking to access sensitive information. Recent cybersecurity assessments have shown that elements of the US supply chain, for example, have shown weaknesses stemming from complex cybersecurity regulations.   

Lara Virrey: How can defence companies best defend themselves against cyber threats?  

ADS analysts: The main takeaway from recent defence industry surveys is that defence companies can best prepare themselves for cyberthreats by keeping up to date with government regulations, and by hiring qualified cybersecurity employees. Cyberthreats come in a variety of forms, ranging from data breaches and ransomware to social engineering attacks, and a consolidated approach is needed to ensure ongoing cyber defence. According to GlobalData, major companies including BAE Systems and Rheinmetall AG have been hiring in this sector, increasing the number of staff working on cybersecurity.   

Lara Virrey: How has the nature of cybersecurity threats to the defence industry changed in the past 2-3 years?  

ADS analysts: The threat landscape in cybersecurity has grown significantly in recent years, with the defence industry at the forefront due to the sensitive nature of information within the industry. Smaller companies in the supply chain have increasingly been targeted because of the perception that they represent weaker targets, and increased connectivity (exacerbated in part by the pandemic) has heightened these threats.    

Lara Virrey: Is the pace of innovation in security technologies keeping up with evolving threats?  

ADS analysts: GlobalData analysis shows significant patent applications in cybersecurity in recent years, and an ongoing rise since 2012. However, what is significant is that cyber solutions have to constantly innovate in order to keep up with peer competitors, meaning it is hard to objectively evaluate how well companies are keeping up with evolving threats. One thing that will inhibit the capabilities of companies to keep up with cyber threats is lack of qualified personnel which has been an ongoing issue. 

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Lara Virrey: Are defence companies doing enough to protect themselves against cyber threats?  

ADS analysts: As numerous reports in recent years point out, defence companies have some way to go in terms of protecting themselves against cyber threats. Covid-19 has increased remote working in many companies, and this increased cybersecurity challenges for many companies. Additionally, the emergence of a ‘hot’ war in Europe has increased the number of cyberattacks across the world, for example the cyberattack on ViaSat in 2022 causing outages across Europe, which is believed to have been carried out by Russia backed groups.