DARPA (the Pentagon’s research division) recently unveiled a new drone with secure software that protects the aircraft’s control systems from hackers.  The program, known as High Assurance Cyber Military Systems (“HACMS”) uses carefully-crafted software to cut-off attacks.  Kathleen Fischer, a program manager at DARPA, said the software has been mathematically-proven to be invulnerable to large classes of cyber-attacks.

The software not only works theoretically, but has been proven to work during field tests.  Mock-enemy “red-team” exercises had hackers attempt to take control of a quadcopter that used HACMS.  The teams failed.  DARPA officials declared the prototype quadcopter as the most secure UAS in the world.  The system has proved so effective that DARPA has now put the HACMS system in all its vehicles.

While system vulnerabilities arise whenever drones are networked together, this software can end those risks.  While this system was designed for small research drones, it can be scaled-up to larger platforms.  DARPA plans to transition to software to Boeing’s unmanned Little Bird.  Further dissemination could lead to a civilian version of the software.  Securing drones from hackers could lessen the recent pushback from using drones in public airspace.  Average citizens would no longer need to worry if their Amazon delivery drone could be hacked and crash into their home.  Also, The FAA could more-clearly set rules for UAS knowing that they are secure from hackers.  Finally, businesses could operate UAS without the increased risk that hackers pose.  Hack-proof drones can increase a business’ efficiency while lowering risk and the expenses that go with it.

Hack-proof drones are valuable to both military and civilian operators.  The ability to protect UAS from hackers ensures that no one can take control of your company’s drone or gain access to its valuable information.  Protecting your UAS protects your business.