- Smart contracts could help alleviate security problems
- The proposed ADS-B system has gaps
- NASA proposes a lightly-permissioned blockchain-based solution to strengthen ADS-B
NASA is exploring the use of distributed ledger technology (DLT) to secure aircraft flight data. The study claims that blockchain networks and smart contracts can help alleviate some security problems.
Facilitate a Secure, Private and Anonymous Communication
The United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) made the proposal through a paper titled “Air Traffic Management Blockchain Infrastructure for Security, Authentication, and Privacy” published by the agency. According to the paper, the proposed system will employ an open-source permissioned blockchain to facilitate a secure, private and anonymous communication with air traffic services. As per the paper:
“This framework features certificate authority, smart contract support, and higher-bandwidth communication channels for private information that may be used for secure communication between any specific aircraft and any particular authorized member.”
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has given authority for the United States to begin using a new surveillance system named the Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) for the public telecasting of the identity, position and other details of aircraft. This has raised concerns among stakeholders since ADS-B doesn’t include provisions for maintaining aircraft-privacy options besides failing to address the potential for spoofing, denial of service and other known risk factors.
The paper says that while civil aircraft firms would prefer keeping some data private, to effectively counter tracking executives as part of the enterprise spying operations, the military aircraft traffic data, meanwhile, is defined by the Department of Defense as information that, if disclosed, would reveal vulnerabilities and can be exploited resulting in significant disruption, destruction, or damage of or to DoD operations, property, or facilities.
Public or Private Sharing Of Data
In order to address the existing differences in outlook, NASA’s paper introduces a prototype in the paper, known as the Aviation Blockchain Infrastructure (ABI), based purely on Hyperledger Fabric and smart contracts, which enables the public or private sharing of data with permitted entities. The researcher, Reisman suggests:
“We propose to use a ‘lightly permissioned’ blockchain framework to enable the ADS-B systems to meet or exceed the same levels of privacy and security currently provided by radar-based systems in the NAS [National Airspace System].”
Distinctive Design Innovations
The Hyperledger Fabric is an Ethereum-based smart contract running on a platform called chaincode. The Ethereum blockchain claims an over 80 percent market share but most of its platforms are designed to support coin applications.
While there are other non-monetary contracts and communications may be accomplished, the implementations often lack cohesion, flexibility, and consistency due to the platforms’ design limitations. The Hyperledger Fabric features a number of distinctive design innovations intended to differentiate it from “Fintech” systems and make it more versatile and appropriate for enterprise transactions that support air traffic surveillance use-cases.