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To address growing evidence that commercial Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), automobiles and other vehicles are vulnerable to hacking and sophisticated cyber security attacks, Galois developed and successfully demonstrated what has been called “the world’s most secure UAV software.” Galois, a company that specializes in protecting information, devices, networks, and vehicles, recently conducted a successful demonstration for the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s High-Assurance Cyber Military Systems (HACMS) program. Galois is part of a team that produced provably correct and secure software that runs on commercial UAVs.

During the HACMS demonstration, red lights indicate that an unprotected drone is being hacked. A similar drone, with Galois software installed, could not be hacked.
For a February 2015 CBS ’60 Minutes’ segment profiling the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), Galois demonstrated an exploit that allows an attacker to completely take over a commercial, off-the-shelf UAV in flight. Galois then showed the same UAV running its high-assurance UAV software that is guaranteed to be invulnerable to large classes of attack. The technology addresses the same security vulnerabilities in many systems, including modern automobiles and the Internet of Things (IoT).

“As unmanned drones – particularly those used for civilian and commercial purposes – grow in number and usage, current software vulnerabilities pose a national security risk,” said Kathleen Fisher, former DARPA HACMS program manager. “Galois’ demonstration offers evidence that software built the right way dramatically reduces vulnerabilities, not just for drones, but for cars, information systems and the Internet itself.”

For the DARPA HACMS program, Galois demonstrated its ability to prevent both UAV drone hacking and automobile hacking. Galois’ secure UAV software provides an alternative to currently available software that’s open to remote takeover and other vulnerabilities. One of the tests Galois performed was having its software evaluated by independent, world-class penetration testing teams that were unable to gain remote access to the vehicle. The software has also been demonstrated to prevent the types of wireless automotive control system attacks exposed in a February 2015 report released by Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mas) called “Tracking & Hacking: Security & Privacy Gaps Put American Drivers at Risk.”

“The message for organizations building connected vehicles, systems and products is that vulnerabilities are not a foregone conclusion if secure and reliable software is designed into their products up front,” said Rob Wiltbank, CEO, Galois. “The same way an automaker would not design a vehicle by trial and error, you can’t develop a secure system on the fly, as the product is being released. Systems can be made correct by design, which presents an opportunity for organizations to dramatically reduce the hacking threat.”

In the HACMS program, Galois is part of a team led by Rockwell Collins, and also includes University of Minnesota, National ICT Australia, and Boeing.

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Aerospace & Defense Technology Magazine

This article first appeared in the May, 2015 issue of Aerospace & Defense Technology Magazine.

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