VT Miltope is gearing up for the launch later this year of its MAP3 wireless access points (WAPS) that use cognitive hotspot technology (CHT).
These use smart technologies to constantly monitor how they are being used and adapt the Wi-Fi environment to give the user the best, fastest wireless experience.
CHT means that fewer WAPs may need to be fitted to the aircraft cabin as they collaborate with each other and can move connected users to give the maximum throughout.
CHT is the brainchild of Spanish-based Galgus. Real-world performance metrics show when using conventional Wi-Fi solutions in passenger aircraft that as soon as 18-20 passenger devices request 1 Mbps video streaming “goodput”, or successful streaming, can fall.
However, only one WAP equipped with CHT is able to satisfy the same traffic demand for up to 90 passenger devices.
Marcus Gilges, VT Miltope’s director of Business Development, said the MAP3 WAPs should be available in Q3 2018.
“They work by offering seamless load balancing and smart roaming,” Gilges said. “For example, if the WAP thinks you would be better served by another in the cabin it can swap you over. Or if it detects that you might be better with a 5GHz connection and not a 2.4GHz one, it will handle that too – and all without the user even knowing.”
The aim is to ensure the maximum Wi-Fi performance and to stop passengers suffering from buffering or delays.
Each MAP3 cabin wireless access point has two radios, providing both IEEE 802.11a/n/ac WAVE 2 operation and 802.11g/n for legacy client devices.
Wireless data rates up to 7 Gbps may be achieved with 802.11ac WAVE 2.
“Another feature of the WAPS is that they can locate every user using triangulation of their wireless signals,” said Gilges. “Currently the accuracy is about two metres, but the algorithms are improving all the time.
“We may get to a point where we could track individual passengers, which could be used for personalised messages or to find hackers trying to attempt cyber-attacks,” he said.
VT Miltope was also showcasing the RazorSecure Edge tool, which provides continuous auditing of data being passed over the inflight network.
Alex Cowan, RazorSecure CEO, said: “The industry average to detect a data breach is about 180 days. That just isn’t good enough for an aircraft in flight.
“RazorSecure provides continuous adaptive monitoring of potential threats and prevents potentially-costly data breaches.”
A piece of legislation driving this is the EU directive on the security of Networks and Information Systems, known as the NIS Directive.
The NIS Directive aims to raise levels across the EU of the overall security and resilience of network and information systems. It will demand active monitoring and anomaly detection of inflight connectivity wireless networks if airlines are to comply properly.
The deadline for EU member states to bring the directive into domestic legislation is 9 May 2018 – and there are big financial penalties for companies who fall foul of the law.
“The fines for companies that don’t follow the NIS Directive can be huge,” said Cowan. “They could be up to four percent of a company’s worldwide revenue.”
RazorSecure is working with the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre and GCHQ and has been astonished by what its software found when it went live with a major train operator’s Wi-Fi network.
“We detected 24 cyber-attacks and also saw server misconfigurations that meant they were vulnerable to attack,” Cowan said.
“RazorSecure has a different approach to stopping hackers. The software learns what is normal behaviour and can then detect anything that is abnormal.
“As inflight connectivity usage expands over the next few years the problem of cyber-security will just get worse.”