US Air Force Investing in Cybersecurity for Avionics

By Nick Zazulia | February 26, 2018
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The Defense Department  is devoting more money to cybersecurity in the U.S. Air Force. File photo

Everyone is worried about hacking, even the U.S. Air Force. Airmen are worried that hacked avionics will lead their pilots to shoot at the wrong targets.

The U.S. Defense Department’s fiscal year 2019 budget estimate has a number of line items devoted to shoring up cybersecurity for aircraft to help out those officers.

The goal is to spend about $12 million or more on the detection of vulnerabilities and protection against malicious attempts for electronic aircraft systems in 2018 and 2019 to combat the growing threat of cyberwarfare.

Of that total, $3.4 million in 2018 and a base of $3.2 million in 2019 are earmarked for vulnerability discovery. The Defense Department said it wants not only to ensure that it has effective methods for identifying weaknesses but also to provide a standardized methodology for thoroughly assessing a weapon system going forward.

The budget names appropriations of $2.7 million in 2018 and a base of $2.6 million in 2019 for the development of cyber protections. This year, the Air Force’s focus will be on the “automation and optimization of malware detection … using machine learning techniques” for unmanned aircraft systems (UAS).

In 2019, that process will continue and Defense wants to validate concepts for x86 computer architectures and develop a database of patterns to help detect benign and malicious behaviors.

There is also a $166.5 million request by the Air Force for a program called “Aerospace Sensors,” where the Air Force will evaluate technologies that can eliminate cyber vulnerabilities within existing, in-service avionics systems.

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