Cyber security tests for UTM

With companies and smart people working hard to ensure that unmanned aircraft systems share the lower atmosphere safely with other aircraft, a Japanese company has just announced cyber security systems for unified unmanned traffic management (UTM).

Which is cool. We think.

Because – while Remote Identification has been introduced to ensure that the right UAS is flying in the right airspace at the right time – there has to be some measures to make sure that, while those drones are up there, no criminals will succeed in tampering with them and making them go to places and doing things they were not originally planned to do.

Companies and drone service providers are working hard to see the successful integration of drone technology into urban airspaces; for applications that include delivery and security.

Which is why Unifly, a Terra Drone Corporation group company which provides UTM systems has been working with partners to get its Unified UTM Cybersecurity Model project certified in the US by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

In partnership with the Rhea Group and New York UAS Test Site, the project aims to refine a UTM cybersecurity model, including the requirements and certification scheme, and to validate the model in an operational environment.

“With the drone industry’s rapid growth, ensuring the safety and security of our airspace is more important than ever,” the company said in a statement.

“UTM systems have a big responsibility in this regard. The key characteristics of UTM systems – software-based, highly automated, and relatively recent – make them an attractive target for cyberattacks that exploit vulnerabilities, threatening aviation safety, the privacy of airspace users, and business operations.

“No comprehensive approach to system requirements, and much less a unified certification scheme, has been developed to assess and validate cybersecurity for UTM systems. These gaps have triggered an urgent need for an updated security framework.”

In the initial phase of the project, the company worked with the FAA ATO Air Traffic Organisation; the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA); The National Security Analysis (CNA); Nav Canada; and DroneUp.

“Alongside this input, the project team refined the system requirements and the security controls for the updated prototype model. The extensive validation process comprised over 60 actual flights in diverse operational environments at the NY Test site in Syracuse, utilising Unifly’s Broadcast Location and Identification device (BLIP).

“These flights encompassed three scenarios: operations under optimal conditions, operations subjected to simulated attacks, and operations with countermeasures against such attacks.

“Several reports containing findings and best practices have been delivered, which will serve as a baseline for future cybersecurity framework development.

“The results of this project will not only benefit the UTM industry but also various stakeholders, including drone operators, regulators, and the public, by ensuring the safety and privacy of all airspace users.”


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