U.S. Defense Department officials have yet to address known cybersecurity risks associated with a military aircraft tracking tool and have only two years before the system must be fully integrated, according to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report published Jan. 18.
The ADS-B Out tracking tool, part of an FAA program to provide transparency on military aircraft, falls short of fully protecting operational information from adversaries and remains vulnerable to electronic warfare and cyberattacks, according to the report.
Since 2008, the Defense Department and the FAA "have identified a variety of risks related to ADS-B Out technology that could adversely affect DOD security and missions,” the GAO wrote in its report. “However, they have not approved any solutions to address these risks.”
Defense has until 2020 to equip its aircraft with ADS-B Out in an effort to upgrade its radar systems and provide increased transparency. The program is part of the FAA NextGen initiative to modernize radar-driven, ground-based air transportation systems to satellite-driven space-based systems.
The U.S. Senate tasked GAO with assessing Defense's plan to address known vulnerabilities with ADS-B Out, which provides real-time information on an aircraft’s location, velocity and airframe dimensions.
Concern has been raised about the satellite-based ADS-B Out technology’s potential to pose operational risk if adversaries are able to expose the positions of military aircraft.
“DOD and FAA have drafted a memorandum of agreement that focuses on equipping aircraft with ADS-B Out but does not address specific security risks,” the report said. “Unless DOD and FAA focus on these risks and approve one or more solutions in a timely manner, they may not have time to plan and execute actions that may be needed before Jan. 1, 2020 — when all aircraft are required to be equipped with ADS-B Out technology.”
Defense has only fully implemented two of the...