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New security threats to GPS enabled flight control system calls for timely safety update

by Russel 2011-10-11 13:58

 

Drone Flight Control CenterGlobal Positioning System as an important deeply integrated part of the U.S. Predator, Scan Eagle and Reaper robotic drone aircraft systems. It works in sync with the Visually Assisted Flying and Landing System. The GPS real time information lets the drones fly and land remotely using their video cameras to identify landmarks, adjust speed and direction accordingly, and navigate to a smooth landing. Predator and Reaper drone runways are clearly defined on the high precision 3-D GPS topographic maps. The newest GPS enabled sophisticated software is in works to allow the unmanned robotic planes to land themselves without pilot intervention. Navigating three dimensional space is a specialty of the GPS integrated flight control software which creates 3-D environments in the robotic drone aircraft computer memory, all  based on combination of GPS data readings and the video footage taken by aircraft cameras. The images taken by satellite video cameras may be also injected into the three dimensional virtual space created and maintained in the aircraft's flight control computer. 

The first success in testing the new three dimensional flight control software, the security concerns of some drone systems which recently exposed security flaws have slowed the process of integrating the new GPS enabled software. Some of the Reapers and Predators do not have the encryption capability for the video stream the robotic aircraft transmits to the ground Air Force Base. The reason is encryption improves security but degrades the speed of video data transfer in real time which is highly important for the quick response capability of the action taken by the human pilot on the ground base control system, and to the remotely controlled robotic drone aircraft.

Drone Flight Remote Control SystemThe drone video footage transmittal was intercepted by the enemy hackers. The interception was investigated and in the Summer of 2009 the U.S. Forces Military network security specialists discovered hours and days of the drone video footage on the laptops of the militant hackers. They managed to capture the video information transmitted by the U.S. drones. Moreover, just recently, a computer logger virus has been identified which infected the cockpit computers of U.S. drone aircraft. The virus penetrated the pilot remote control system allowing to log pilot's  keystrokes as they remotely fly missions over Afghanistan and other warzones.

The U.S. Forces Military network security specialists detected the logging virus while running security scans on the military's Host-Based Security System two weeks ago. The virus has not prevented drone aircraft control pilots at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada from flying their missions overseas. The security specialists have not identified or confirmed incidents of classified information being lost or sent to an outside source. But the infection is not easy to remove once it finds its way and has revealed the ongoing security risks in what has become the U.S. military's most important weapons system. Security specialists enforced safe ways to load GPS topographic map updates and transport drone flight mission video information between  robotic aircraft's computer systems.

The GPS side of the three dimensional navigational software virtual space is thoroughly secured. The GPS navigational data feed for the flight control system interface has several layers of protection both on the GPS data L1-L2 channels side and on the integration interface side. This allows safe real time transfer of the high precision GPS topographic map data into the Visually Assisted Flying and Landing Control System of the U.S. Predator, Scan Eagle and Reaper robotic drone aircraft.    

The timely update of the GPS navigational device and/or system with the latest and greatest most secure and robust version of the firmware and software of the GPS navigator is important not only for the military but for a civilian use of the GPS system and GPS navigators too. 

GPS technology leaders, like Garmin (GRMN), provide the special online program to keep your GPS device safe and sound. It is our all-in-one software update program that works with most popular GPS handheld, fitness, geocaching and other devices. It automatically checks for the latest operating firmware and software updates. The real time web based updater also keeps your GPS device navigation synthesized voices and, GPS topographic maps up to the most current version.

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