Unhackable Drone Helicopters a must have for the Pentagon before 2018 – The Pentagon is looking for unhackable drone helicopters to avoid getting pwned through cyber attacks.
An unavoidable expense of modern warfare is losing a few UAVs to the enemy forces. However, there is a vast difference between losing a Scan Eagle and saying the Pentagon’s independent MH-6 Little Bird just because only one of these are armed to the talons with Hellfire Missiles, Chainguns and Hydra Rockets.
This is the primary reason behind DARPA engineers’ strive to augment the Little Bird’s electronic defences. They have realized the need to avoid external hacking and to prevent this tiny killing machine from going AWOL.
NextGov reports that engineers are busy in re-coding the Little Bird’s communication style so that only the designated DoD operator is entitled to seize the control of this vehicle along with its weapons and/or its surveillance gear and no one else. Evidently, DARPA is incorporating the same unbreakable encryption program that it already implemented on a commercial quadcopter in May 2014.
DARPA HACMS (High-Assurance Cyber Military Systems) former program manager Kathleen Fischer explains:
“Many things have computers inside and those computers are networked to talk to other things. Whenever you have that situation, you have the possibility for remote vulnerabilities where somebody can use the network connection to take over and get the device to do what the attacker wants instead of what the owner wants.”
To contest this, the HACMS program allows identification and elimination of security threats on a more comprehensive level through a proprietary programming language that is different from the usual C++ employed in the computer systems of the military.
The cyber-physical systems research lead for Galois, Lee Pike, states:
“We’ve developed a new programming language that is provably free from those vulnerabilities. The approach is to transition the programming language we’ve developed, called Ivory, to Boeing so that they can rewrite their systems.”
If the Little Bird upgrades go as planned, the HACMS program will potentially find it useful in upcoming UAV projects as it can secure their communication systems on a systematic level.
John Launchbury, program head of HACMS, added:
“The intent is to conduct an experiment to prove that these new coding techniques can create secure code at full scale.”
Reportedly, Boeing is looking to obtain around 70% of the code, that is, approximately 100,000 lines — revised before the scheduled test flights that are due this summer. Hopes are high that the Little Bird encryption will be completed within three years.