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A Method to Secure Air to Air Messages

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000240723D
Publication Date: 2015-Feb-23
Document File: 6 page(s) / 755K

Publishing Venue

The IP.com Prior Art Database

Abstract

Security in aircraft communications is of utmost importance and any vulnerability could lead to dangerous consequences. With the advent of Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen), many applications such as Air-to-Air, ADS-B (Automatic dependent surveillance – broadcast), TIS-B (Traffic information service – broadcast), weather broadcast, AIS (Automatic Identification System) broadcast etc. are coming up that depend on air-to-air broadcast messages for their functioning. Currently these applications are vulnerable to security threats and do not have any security framework for verifying authenticity of the messages or for encryption of the messages. This paper provides a method for securing the information exchange for all aircraft communications and helps to avert data security vulnerabilities in aircraft communication systems.

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A Method to Secure Air to Air Messages

Thanga Anandappan, Aloke Roy, Sharath Babu Malve, Michael L Olive 

ABSTRACT

Security in aircraft communications is of utmost importance and any vulnerability could lead to dangerous consequences. With the advent of Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen), many applications such as Air-to-Air, ADS-B (Automatic dependent surveillance – broadcast), TIS-B (Traffic information service – broadcast), weather broadcast, AIS (Automatic Identification System) broadcast etc. are coming up that depend on air-to-air broadcast messages for their functioning. Currently these applications are vulnerable to security threats and do not have any security framework for verifying authenticity of the messages or for encryption of the messages. This paper provides a method for securing the information exchange for all aircraft communications and helps to avert data security vulnerabilities in aircraft communication systems.

1. INTRODUCTION

The NextGen system proposed by FAA is being considered the air traffic system of the future. NextGen will switch the responsibility of surveillance and navigation from antiquated ground-based radars to modern satellite-navigation based aircraft transponders. There are many NextGen data link applications that are fundamentally conceptualized on the usage of air-to-air broadcast messages. Some of these applications are Air-to-Air, ADS-B (Automatic dependent surveillance – broadcast), TIS-B (Traffic information service – broadcast), weather broadcast, AIS (Automatic Identification System) broadcast, etc. Owing to an absence of a security feature or a defined security protocol in air-to-air messages, these applications are vulnerable to security threats such as masquerading, hacking, man-in-the-middle, eavesdrop attacks, etc. Also no method is available for authenticating the messages or encrypting them for secure transmission. Hence it is highly desirable to have a security framework for air-to-air messages in aeronautical communications.

2. PROPOSED SOLUTION OF THE PROBLEM

A geographical region, where aircrafts are operating, is divided into multiple grids. Each grid is allocated a security profile comprising of a security key and an algorithm. All aircrafts operating in that region uses the specific security profiles allocated to them. Encryption and authentication mechanisms are defined in the security profiles. The broadcasts in a grid can only be decoded by an aircraft that is aware of the security profile in that grid.

The required security profiles are provided to the aircraft by air traffic control (ATC) at its origin while approving the flight plan. The ATC provides the security details to the aircraft so only an authorized aircraft can receive the security details. Mutual authentication takes place between the aircraft and the ATC before exchange of the security plan. Thus any data transfer takes place over a secure data link. The keys and the algorithms are refresh...