Securing the sky

Securing the sky

Unoccupied aerial systems (UAS) – colloquially referred to as ‘drones’ – are increasingly being deployed for a plethora of military and civil applications as well as for entertainment. This is a major challenge for the defence and aeronautical industry, as those vehicles need to be integrated into an already congested airspace, where they need to coexist and cooperate with today’s airspace users.

With an increasing interconnection of air traffic management with the Internet, attacks from the cyberspace become more likely. Not only can they propagate through the air traffic network, such attacks could also – under certain circumstances – result in failures of safety-critical components. Hence, security becomes a necessary condition to ensure safety, a concept known as “safety through security”. However, contrary to traditional IT systems, aeronautical systems may need to tolerate some security incidents if a countermeasure could be detrimental to safety. Nevertheless, safe operation needs to be guaranteed during any type of security incident.

Furthermore, confidentiality of sensitive information needs to be considered, especially for defence applications and when handling personal information (e.g. special meal requests) or commercial data. Current aviation communication standards do not support encryption by default, thus transmitted information can easily be collected with about 200 USD worth of equipment.

To address these challenges, the CONCORDIA project presents the safety and security for UAS (S2UAS) system architecture. This novel approach incorporates relevant safety and security aspects for UAS operation, which is the first step to integrate UAS into the existing airspace while taking the aforementioned challenges into account. Within CONCORDIA’s Task on security for UAS, we focus on 1) ultra-low footprint authentication solutions, 2) ad-hoc networking challenges, and 3) secure interaction with (partially) trustworthy partners. For this cutting-edge research, our industry and academic partners are closely collaborating to ensure that the results matter to secure European skies.

(By Airbus Cybersecurity)

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