U.S. Navy is Trying to Make Their Drones Hack Proof

The U.S. Navy launched a project in collaborating with scientists to help protect its drone. A key aim in the project is to ensure that assets (drones and other flying munitions) can bounce back to normality in the event of a cyberattack.

“There is a paucity of cyber R&D and threat information for weapon systems and supporting systems that directly or indirectly ‘connect’ to weapon systems,” Naval Air Systems Command contracting documents state.

“A weapons system or warfighting platform cannot be susceptible to a cyber-intrusion or attack, because that obviously risks mission outcome and much more,” Fleet Cyber Command spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Joseph R. Holstead said.

Through research and probing, officials and researchers expect to learn how to block intruders and malicious attackers from compromising and taking control of airborne systems, as well as enabling the equipment “to survive and continue to operate during close quarters battle,” staying true to the aim posed above.

Open notice for security researchers.

The notice is available to interested researchers and entrants have until May of 2016 to submit a viable research abstract. Here is the process:

  • The competition of awards will include an evaluation of all submitted abstracts and subsequently, an evaluation of full proposals from selected abstracts.
  • Participants will then be notified if they are eligible for the second stage within 3 months of entering.

The fundamental areas of study for the cybersecurity of naval weapons are:

  1. Identifying and defending access points to systems.
  2. Cyber-warning system techniques.
  3. Resilient network concepts.
  4. The coming together or convergence of cybersecurity and electronic warfare.
  5. Complete acquisition of cybersecurity measures.

Although the project will start with scientific research, it will end with the actual deployment of the technology that is bound to be operational in real-world missions.

It is crucial to note that the Navy as a branch, more so than most other branches depends heavily on complex ships and compatible aircraft that are often physically and even digitally joined to weapons and weapons systems.

“A ship-launched cruise missile relies on the ship for more than just transport to a suitable firing range,” said U.S. Navy retired Capt. Mike Walls. “The ship provides critical, digital information from its own systems to the cruise missile before launch in order for the missile to hit its target. If either or both of the systems fail, the ship or the cruise missile, then the target is not destroyed.”

Meanwhile, engineers at the Pentagon are designing an unmanned helicopter that is proven to be unencumbered by any software vulnerabilities.