A resilient ATC architecture helps keep the skies safe for all. This article explains why a digital immune system is vital for the ATC architecture.

Resilience against software glitches and security vulnerabilities is critical for all ATC architecture. Any failures could mean the difference between life and death for passengers, aviation personnel and issues with training of ATC personnel. Therefore, it is vital that digital immune systems are used to protect applications and services by making them more resilient, thus allowing them to quickly recover when severely compromised or knocked offline.

In this article, we will discuss the importance of implementing a digital immune system for the ATC architecture.

What is a Digital Immune System?

All industry sectors, including the aviation industry, rely heavily on their enterprise systems running smoothly and without interruption. Disruptions caused by software glitches or hacking can be mitigated or avoided by implementing a robust digital immune system (DIS).

So, what exactly is a digital immune system? According to IT experts at Gartner, it is a system that mitigates business risks by combining multiple practices and technologies, including:

  • Development
  • Operations
  • Automation
  • Software design
  • Analytics

When combined, these practices and technologies can create a superior user experience while reducing system failures that can cause business performance to suffer. The resiliency that a robust digital immune system provides allows for faster recovery after system failures. Such a system is crucial to improving and ensuring a better customer experience.

Almost half of the respondents to a recent Gartner survey stated that their primary goal with their digital investments was to improve their customer experience. Based on the data analysis of their survey, it is expected that organizations making an investment to increase their digital immunity will see an 80% decrease in system downtime, thus increasing customer satisfaction.

What Practices & Technologies Are Needed to Create a Strong DIS?

Building and implementing a strong digital immune system does not happen overnight. It requires a strong vision statement that will assist in aligning the organization as it works toward a smooth implementation. The following vital practices and technologies are crucial to developing a strong digital immunity system.


A digital immune system must be able to observe the software and systems used within the ATC architecture. It is imperative to build observability into applications to allow the DIS to do its job with providing resilience and reliability to mitigate issues and keep systems running.

AI-Augmented Testing

AI-augmented testing helps by making software testing processes more independent without the need for constant human intervention. It builds upon conventional test automation by including creation, fully automated planning and analysis of tests.

Chaos Engineering

We do not know what we do not know. Chaos engineering allows teams to use experimental testing to discover weaknesses and vulnerabilities within their systems. Ideally, this process is used in a preproduction environment with the results found being applied to production hardening and normal operating procedures.


A vital part of a digital immune system is the inclusion of autoremediation capabilities that build automatic monitoring and remediation functions into an application. When issues are detected, autoremediation automatically corrects them and returns the system to its normal state without requiring human intervention. It can also be used to remediate a failing UX by using chaos engineering and observability together.

Site Reliability Engineering (SRE)

Site reliability engineering uses engineering practices and principles that leverage service-level objectives to control service management. SRE mitigates the need for speed against risk and stability while reducing the need for remediation from development teams.

Software Supply Chain Security

The software supply chain needs protection from attacks. It is essential that transparency, visibility, integrity and security are maintained with both open-source and proprietary code in software supply chains. This involves having strong version-control policies, including using artifact repositories for trust content. To protect the integrity of internal and external code, vendor risk must also be managed throughout the delivery life cycle.

Benefits of Implementing a Digital Immune System for ATC Architecture

There are multiple benefits to implementing a digital immune system. But here are the top three that stand out for ATC architecture.

A digital immune system:

  1. Creates superior customer and user experiences that are more resistant to software failures and security issues.
  2. Combines the practices and technologies that work together to make services and systems more resilient.
  3. Considers the value created for both business and IT stakeholders.

SkyRadar’s Cyber-Resilience Training Infrastructure

SkyRadar’s Cyber-Resilience Training Infrastructure is continuously embracing new knowledge, risks and standards which include the concept of digital immunity. 

The infrastructure includes many use cases and cyber attack scenarios around information technology as well as ATC and air force infrastructure. 

The Cybersecurity lab fully integrates with SkyRadar’s System Monitoring and Control Suite SkySMC, optimized  to cater for the ATSEP-SMC training compliant to EASA's Easy Access Rules for ATM-ANS (Regulation (EU) 2017/373) and ICAO Doc 10057.

SkyRadar provides SkySMC as a complete laboratory in a turn-key approach, or as a service.

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What Is a Digital Immune System and Why Does It Matter? (October 2022), by Lori Perri at Gartner Inc.

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