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Data In-Flight: Applying Zero Trust to Airline Travel and Content Security

December 27, 2023

No matter which airport you travel through or how many times you travel through it, one element remains the same – the security check(s). Whether you’re asked to take off your shoes, put your laptop in a separate bin, or leave it all together and walk through one of the many x-ray machines, there’s no bypassing the security check. And this applies to the confirmation (and re-confirmation) that your ID matches the ticket information and all the necessary components.

You might be asking, “What about pre-check and CLEAR and all the other services that don’t require a bag scan or any of the intrusive processes each time you travel?” While those methods might be sufficient for the TSA (Transportation Security Administration), at Votiro, we believe a zero-trust approach is best. I guess you could say we take security even more seriously than the TSA.

Airline Travel & Zero Trust Content Security: A Comparison

In an article by Aviv Grafi, Votiro Founder and CTO, and featured on the Cyber Security Tribe website, the similarities between zero trust content security and airline travel were made clear:

  • Around the perimeter of an airport, access is strictly controlled. Security won’t allow you to linger too long at the curb when dropping off or picking up passengers.
    • Zero trust content security ensures no malware gets beyond the perimeter of an organization’s endpoint, stopping it well before it can reach its destination.
  • When dropping off your checked luggage, an airline agent will first ask for your boarding pass – and your ID, validating your identity.
    • Using TrueTyping and Votiro’s Positive Selection® technology, more than 180 file types are inspected and disarmed of malicious elements.
  • Before you enter the security line, there may be another process to check your ticket, making sure you get into the correct line.
    • Using advanced content disarm and reconstruction (CDR) technology ensures that only known-safe content is allowed to a specific channel and/or endpoint.
  • In the security line, the TSA agent checks your government-issued ID once again.
    • As TSA agents verify travelers’ airport credentials, zero trust access ensures all user credentials are validated.
  • After successfully passing through the baggage checkpoint, travelers are granted temporary, low-level (least privilege) access to the airport. Instead of being given free rein to go everywhere, travelers are restricted to a particular area: the terminal.
    • This micro-segmentation approach aligns with the principles of zero trust, where initial access is granted but limited to specific areas or actions.
  • During the boarding process, each ticket is scanned once again to ensure that each traveler is gaining access to the correct plane.
    • With a reconstructed file that’s free of hidden threats, the intended content is allowed access to the organization’s endpoint, ready for safe viewing and sharing.

Bringing Your Baggage… Without All the Baggage

In the article, Grafi goes on to discuss the way baggage is handled, much like zero trust’s policy of ensuring content is safe to deliver – free from the need to sandbox, quarantine, or outright block. In both instances, the goal is to ensure safe travel without delay.

As Grafi puts it, “Airlines also take the approach of not trusting the items that people bring with them: luggage, carry-ons, and personal items. Apply that to information security and a parallel can be made to digital luggage: aka files and the content within them. Zero Trust Content Security scrutinizes the attachments and items accompanying those credentials, much like checking luggage at the airport.”

While the ins and outs of airline travel and zero trust content security may be complex behind the scenes, the practical applications are simple. To read all about the similarities and learn why zero trust is the best solution for the safe and efficient delivery of data, view the full article on cybersecuritytribe.com.