Inside Unmanned Systems

FEB-MAR 2017

Inside Unmanned Systems provides actionable business intelligence to decision-makers and influencers operating within the global UAS community. Features include analysis of key technologies, policy/regulatory developments and new product design.

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 24 of 59

25 unmanned systems inside February/March 2017 ply time-proven, common-sense secu- rity precautions to our UAS detect and avoid (DAA) systems. E A S Y WAY N O. 1: Si mply have 3PLA, the Third Department of the People's Liberation Army's General Staff Department—China's equiva- lent to the U.S. NSA. hack into the databases of the NASA-designed fu- ture Unmanned Traffic Management (UTM) system to get f ine-grained ground based DA A (GBDA A) data from the hundreds of radars that will be connected to UTM. Have military intelligence do some data analy tics on the tracking data, find out which companies are f lying near your tar- gets of interest, wait for them to go where you want them to, and then get 3PL A to hack into the target's imagery servers. BAM!—you'll have great imager y of American targets at the bargain cost of a few million bucks to pay for hacking. All of this for just a tiny risk of conf lict if 3PLA gets caught (we catch them hacking all the time, but ty pically don't do anything about it). You may be able to get away with this because cyber security hasn't been designed in from the start of our UTM system. EASY WAY NO. 2: This option is a bit more expensive, but gives you more control over the intelligence gathered. You do all the steps from easy way No. 1, but instead of just waiting, you take over their drone and gather your own imagery. It's not as hard as it sounds. Remember our discussion about the need to have a cell phone tower data link relay network to enable beyond line of sight (BLOS) operations? Well, a data link relay network w ithout proper cyber security could allow 3PLA to f ly drones over San Francisco just as easily as they can f ly them over Beijing. Of course, 3PLA would have to make it appear to the legitimate owner that the drone went "lost link" while under Chinese control, but that should be easy to do without proper cyber security. Plus, 3PLA would only need your drone for a few minutes to f ly into that Air Force hanger and get their imagery. Remember—they have access to very accurate GBDA A data from their UTM hack, so they can find the drone in just the right posi- tion for them to take over. EASY WAY NO. 3: Put your own data links on buildings near targets and take over drones to do your spying. A drawback to easy way No. 2 is that cell phone company cyber security is actually quite good, making it tough to hack into their network and f ly them from China directly. Easy way No. 3 gets around cell phone com- pany security by simply taking di- rect control of unwitting American drones. Remember how we discussed how difficult it is to make a reliable AND secure drone data link? There's a chance that upcoming airworthi- ness standards for beyond line of sight (BLOS) drone operations will err on the side of reliability and toss security out the w indow. This w ill EASY WAY NO. 3 GETS AROUND CELL PHONE COMPANY SECURITY BY SIMPLY TAKING DIRECT CONTROL OF UNWITTING AMERICAN DRONES. MAJOR GENERAL JAMES O. POSS (RET) is a leading expert on UAS, having targeted the first armed UAS strikes, designed the U.S. Air Force's remote split operations system for UAS control, and designed the Distributed Common Ground Station for UAS intelligence analysis. General Poss was the Executive Director of the Alliance for System Safety of UAS through Research Excellence (ASSURE) of the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) Center of Excellence Team. He is CEO of ISR Ideas—an intelligence, unmanned systems and cyber warfare consulting company with decades of intelligence community experience, coupled with insider FAA knowledge.

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of Inside Unmanned Systems - FEB-MAR 2017