I remember when I first started with Mission Critical magazine, back in August of 2019. I went to my first conference in October. During one of the sessions, the speaker was talking about adding color to the white space. I had no idea what he was referring to, so I asked him.

“What’s the white space?” was one of the most technical questions I could come up with at that point in time.

Barely three years later, I bet I could walk through a customer’s white space and name every piece of equipment in there and maybe even explain how it works.

Two other things major changes have taken place during that time too. No. 1, I’m earning my master’s degree in cybersecurity at New York University, and, No. 2, I am earning my private pilot’s license.

In my classes at NYU, I learn a lot about past cyberattacks — what the vulnerability was, how the hacker gained access, what they did, how the vulnerability was secure, etc. We also learn about how attackers find these vulnerabilities, what causes them, where they might look for them, and what would happen if the attack was successful.

I am currently taking a summer class with a professor who I’ve had once before. In both classes, he assigned a research paper and encouraged us to be creative, to share an aspect of cybersecurity that has popped up in our personal lives because we all have unique experiences and a diverse approach is necessary. I shared my first paper back in January, The Role of Digital Forensics in Criminal Investigations. I received a lot of positive feedback from my peers on various aspects of the paper. But, there was one thing everyone who read it said: “What an interesting topic.”

Although I think I am going to expand on this topic for my next paper, I got to thinking about another “interesting topic” regarding cybersecurity: aviation.

People often ask me it’s scary to fly. For me, the answer is no, but maybe there are some terrified pilots out there — who knows. I fly a 1970s Piper Archer. Yeah, it’s old, but it’s mechanical, which means it’s reliable.

The only thing I don’t trust, is the GPS. And, neither does the industry. Sure, I will use it. But you will never catch me up in the air without a giant map that shows my start point, end point, and a landmark every 5 to 10 miles between.

But, I often wonder what would happen if someone were to attack the aviation infrastructure. We rely on a website to submit flight plans, check the weather, etc. We also receive instructions from air traffic control (ATC) while using the radio in the air. A false weather report, or a dangerous instruction from ATC could lead to a crash, which would likely be fatal.

Now, let’s go back to three years, when I didn’t know what a white space was. I can tell you that I was definitely not connecting criminal investigations and ATC to the mission critical industry. And, even though I had a broader view of the industry today than I did when I started, I know there are still some things I just don’t see from my perspective.

What parts of our lives are connected by critical infrastructure that we may not realize yet?

If you work in a unique area of the mission critical industry, I want to hear more about it, so I can share it with the rest of the readers too.