Drone demo shows it’s possible to protect 5G-managed devices from DDoS and exfiltration attacks

A demonstration earlier this year at Stanford School of Engineering proved that a small fleet of computer-controlled drones can maintain flight integrity in the face of continual cyberattacks on the 5G network used to manage devices through the deployment of a network. software-defined (SDN).

For corporate IT professionals tasked with securing wireless devices on a 5G network, the results of drone tests are promising evidence that SDN can help networks undergoing a cyber attack recover almost instantly.

Dubbed Project Pronto, the current research is designed to show how devices such as autonomous motor vehicles, airplanes and trains can be operated securely and reliably over 5G wireless networks. Given the potentially disastrous consequences of hacking into large wireless devices while traveling at high speeds or at high altitudes, vulnerabilities that could put lives at risk must be addressed before these devices are widely deployed.

The broader goal of the Pronto project is to leverage 5G as a cloud-based distributed edge computing platform that facilitates innovation and competitive advantage through visibility, verification and control. closed loop network in depth and large scale. Nick McKeown, professor of electrical engineering and computer science at Stanford, is leading the project.

SDN was developed in 2008 as a result of a collaboration between the McKeown research team at Stanford and a team at the University of California, Berkeley. As the Stanford Engineering Department magazine explains, “SDN is a simplified approach to traditional proprietary ‘black box’ networking that decouples a network’s data and routing functions for faster reconfiguration and easier on the fly. “

As the drone demonstration showed, the application of advanced SDN techniques allows networks running on 5G to recover from a cyberattack in less than a second, thus avoiding downtime and outages, protecting the networks. wireless devices with a “shield” that deploys almost instantly.

This video of the drone demonstration by the Open Networking Foundation (ONF) Oguz Sunay, shows two different types of attacks on five drones flying in formation. A denial of service (DoS) attack could cause the drones to act erratically and break out of formation. But when the researchers activated path verification, the attacker’s disruptive packets were blocked, allowing the drones to continue to fly in coordination and without interruption. In a test against exfiltration attacks that allow attackers to accurately monitor drone locations, researchers proved that enabling path verification prevents packets revealing the location of drones from reaching the attacker. .

Beyond protecting drones in lab experiments, one of the foundations of Pronto has been adopted by a startup called Ananki which uses it to deliver private 5G cellular service. This technology, called Aether by the NFB that developed it and Pronto, is a private open source cloud platform as a connected 4G / 5G service. The executive director of the NFB, Guru Parulkar, is the CEO of the company.

Stanford, Cornell University, Princeton University and the NFB are collaborating on Pronto, which is funded in part by a $ 30 million grant from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

Here is a good presentation from McKeown which details the Pronto project.

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