Security issues in ADS-B-based next generation Air Traffic Control

Automatic Dependent Surveillance – Broadcast (ADS-B) is currently intended as part of next generation air traffic control (ATC) networks in most of the world’s airspaces. The aim of the ADS-B protocol is to facilitate the safe and efficient transportation of more than 2 billion passengers per year by 2020 and provide the future backbone for the regulated control of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV). By now, the major airlines are upgrading their aircrafts with this new technology, and ADS-B signals are broadcasted by 70-80% of commercial aircraft in airspaces in Europe, Asia and America.

From these few numbers, it is evident that the ADS-B technology is one of the key components of the next generation air transportation system. Since ADS-B will become mandatory by 2020 for most airspaces, it is important that aspects such as capacity, applications, and security are investigated by an independent research community.

To enable researchers to conduct experimental studies based on real data, a new project has emerged, namely OpenSky-NETWORK, that is a sensor network based on low-cost hardware connected over the Internet. The aim of the OpenSky-NETWORK international project is to become an open sensor network for research. OpenSky collects and stores all ADS-B traffic as it is being captured by sensor nodes distributed over a large area.

The CRI Lab at the HBKU-CSE university is an active participant of the OpenSky-NETWORK project. An ADS-B antenna has been installed and operated since from March 2018 to provide data about the air traffic on the Gulf zone. Being an active participant to the project, the CRIL LAB has also full access to raw data about the sensed traffic, with details on the precise reception time, direction of the planes, speed, and other useful information.

Based on this data, the researchers at the CRI LAB investigates solutions to guarantee the following security services:

  • authenticity of data,
  • privacy
  • confidentiality of sensitive information,
  • intrusion detection
  • source authentication
  • location verification
  • and other security-related issues.

Join our group to be part of this exciting open-source initiative!