Aviation’s Biggest Challenge in 2019? Virtualization & Cybersecurity

Just a few days ago Airbus detected cyber-attacks on its commercial aircraft information systems. Although this attack targeted their company’s information systems and was not a threat to airborne systems, the ever-increasing reports of like attacks remind us that keeping airborne systems safe from hostile actors may be the biggest aviation challenge in 2019.

While virtualization has many benefits—reduces software development cost and increases software quality—it also enables a novel way to combat the growing sophistication of cyber-attacks.  In this post, we provide a condensed version of the most important information you may have missed from our 2018 blog series, Virtualization & Cybersecurity.

What is Virtualization?

While virtual machines have been around since the early days of computing, the rising popularity of cloud and highly scalable architectures, and the growing sophistication of cyber-attacks, has made virtualization one of the most sought-after technologies in computing. Virtualization allows end-users and developers to emulate all or parts of a system’s hardware or software.

Migrating to virtualization can help the development teams deliver software more frequently, quickly, and automatically to conduct high-fidelity testing allowing the detection of bugs sooner. Additionally, virtualization offers improved scalability and reliability from traditional hardware lab environments and may eliminate the need for costly specialized hardware. The advantages of virtual machines make it possible for embedded and safety-critical applications such as aerospace and defense to dramatically reduce software development time and money.

Virtualization Enables DevOps Software Development

Today, many software development teams have adopted the DevOps paradigm to continuously produce software. It involves strategies for managing teams, processes, and technologies. Virtualization enables DevOps by providing a stable configuration base that can be replicated exactly in both development and production environments with an impetus to “automate everything.” Virtualization is integral in DevOps and affects every aspect of the process from development to deployment to maintenance.

Virtualization for DevOps:

  • Offers a consistent, stable environment for development and testing
  • Detects software errors faster and increases efficiency
  • Automates the test suite to be run each time a developer submits code
  • Reduces post-deployment maintenance costs

Virtualization Supports Embedded Security

As cyber-attacks become more sophisticated, software teams need to be increasingly vigilant to identify security vulnerabilities in embedded systems as early in the development process as possible. If vulnerabilities are discovered early, problems can be remediated, limiting the chance to compromise data or put critical systems at risk. Systems, such as those in the aerospace and defense industry, must be protected especially if failure could endanger public safety or national security.

There are many ways virtualization can help embedded security including advanced diagnostics, debugging potential vulnerabilities, and detecting latent defects. Comprehensive cross-platform virtualization solutions are now available for embedded applications. These solutions enable security assessment that is both highly effective and cost-efficient in achieving significant security improvements for aerospace and defense applications.

Virtualization for Security:

  • Helps bridge the gap to deliver higher security with reduced cost
  • Supports security testing with advanced diagnostics and debugging of potential vulnerabilities
  • Enables single-step debugging, traces, logging, and root-cause analysis
  • Supports scalable test automation without the need to fully replicate hardware components including fault-injection testing
  • Makes possible the integration of heterogeneous virtual machines running different architectures, operating systems, and applications for “system-of-systems” simulations and testing

To develop a virtualization strategy or to learn how virtualization can benefit your project, contact Performance Software to get started. Check out these articles for what you need to know about virtualization in 2019.

Virtual Machines: An Introduction to Platform Virtualization

Virtualization: A Key Enabler of DevOps

Virtual Machines and Aerospace: Lessons Learned

Virtualization and FAA Certification Activities

How Virtualization Can Help Embedded Security

Virtualization and Avionics Security: Global Supply-Chain Perspective

Disrupting the Cyber Kill Chain with Virtualization and System-of-Systems Testing

Virtualization: A Security Monitoring Solution for Embedded Aerospace

JETS Defense: The Systems-of-Systems Cyber Tester


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