Investigating Encrypted IEEE 802.15.4 and DigiMesh Communications for Small Unmanned Systems

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The integration of autonomous unmanned aerial vehicles into both civilian and military applications creates a potential risk for cyber-attacks. The wireless comunication link used to monitor and control the UAV may be vulnerable to attacks in the absence of encryption. With publicly available information regarding the communications protocol, autopilot, and ground control station software, obtaining the necessary knowledge to perform a malicious cyber-attack can be relatively easy. In the past it has been an uncommon practice to use encryption to secure communication in non-military UAV applications, due to the increased latency. This paper presents an investigation on the increase in latency due to encryption using the Digi 2.4 GHz XBEE-PRO 802.15.4 and 900MHz XBEE-PRO 900HP DigiMesh which are commonly used for command and control communication in low cost UAVs.

In American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics