Confidential and authenticated communications in a large fixed-wing UAV swarm
Thompson, Richard B.
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Large unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) swarms are a nascent technology promising useful military and civilian solutions to difficult problems. Securing data communications within the swarm is essential to accomplishing swarm objectives. The Naval Postgraduate School has successfully demonstrated the launch, flight and landing of 50 UAVs. The communications architecture to support a UAV swarm is unique. The practical challenges of creating a secure communications channel in the swarm are detailed in this thesis. The Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) was chosen as one of the encryption algorithms for testing, as it is authorized by the National Security Agency (NSA). Various modes of AES, including Galois/Counter Mode and Counter with Cipher Block Chaining Message Authentication Code, were analyzed within the swarm architecture. The impact of these authenticated encryption algorithms on network throughput and processor performance is presented. In addition to AES, ChaCha20-Poly1305, another type of authenticated encryption scheme, was studied. It was found to be the better solution for securing the swarm if classified data is not being handled or created.
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