DARPA's "Hack-Proof" Drone

Getting Pwned in 3...2...

First, "Hack-Proof" is an aspiration not a destination. It's a term that is thrown about very casually and at great risk, especially when the media is involved. I am more comfortable operating under the assumption that all systems have attack vectors. Some are just more secure than others.

That aside, the latest news out of DARPA sounds promising:

the Pentagon's research arm - the Defense Advance Research Project Agency (DARPA) - has unveiled a new drone which it claims to have built with secure software that can prevent control and navigation of the aircraft by hackers.

High Assurance Cyber Military Systems (HACMS) is a newly-completed program that uses software to thwart cyber attacks, according to military blog Defense Tech.

Kathleen Fischer, HACMS program manager for DARPA, told the website that the technology behind the program has been in development for several years, adding that:

The software is designed to make sure a hacker cannot take over control of a UAS. The software is mathematically proven to be invulnerable to large classes of attack.

The mathematically-assured software utilised by the drone fared well when tested by DARPA experts who were unable to remotely break in even after 18 months of testing, leading them to conclude that the unmanned aerial system (UAS) is the most secure on the planet.

I could nitpick and point out that "invulnerable to large classes of attack" is not nearly the same as being "hack-proof"but you probably already caught that. This is still important work and a far improvement over earlier systems which had little, or even no, security measures in place. I'll take imperfect progress over lazy stupidity any day.

Blogs of WarJohn Little has been breaking national security news and leveraging thousands of conflict, intelligence, security, technology & political sources to provide level-headed analysis in a complex news environment since 2002.