A Review on Cybersecurity Vulnerabilities for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles Conference Paper uri icon


  • © 2017 IEEE. This paper surveys the scientific and trade literature on cybersecurity for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), concentrating on actual and simulated attacks, and the implications for small UAVs. The review is motivated by the increasing use of small UAVs for inspecting critical infrastructures such as the electric utility transmission and distribution grid, which could be a target for terrorism. The paper presents a modified taxonomy to organize cyber attacks on UAVs and exploiting threats by Attack Vector and Target. It shows that, by Attack Vector, there has been one physical attack and ten remote attacks. By Target, there have been six attacks on GPS (two jamming, four spoofing), two attacks on the control communications stream (a deauthentication attack and a zero-day vulnerabilities attack), and two attacks on data communications stream (two intercepting the data feed, zero executing a video replay attack). The paper also divides and discusses the findings by large or small UAVs, over or under 25 kg, but concentrates on small UAVs. The survey concludes that UAV-related research to counter cybersecurity threats focuses on GPS Jamming and Spoofing, but ignores attacks on the controls and data communications stream. The gap in research on attacks on the data communications stream is concerning, as an operator can see a UAV flying off course due to a control stream attack but has no way of detecting a video replay attack (substitution of a video feed).

author list (cited authors)

  • Krishna, C., & Murphy, R. R.

citation count

  • 60

publication date

  • October 2017