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Flight Demonstration and Validation of Control Acquisition Autopilot Attack

AIAA 2022-2341
Session: Learning, Reasoning, and Data Driven Systems I
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The widespread use of unmanned air systems has provided the opportunity for many dangerous cyber threats. One of the most potentially dangerous among these is the threat of a control acquisition cyber attack in which the cyber attacker takes over control of the vehicle. This work focuses on a particular method by which a malicious attacker might carry out a control acquisition attack on an unmanned air system. Previous work has developed the necessary control theory behind the attack and demonstrated the attack in a software-in-the-loop simulation. This paper seeks to further explore this attack by demonstrating and evaluating the attack on a real-world vehicle and autopilot system. The experimental results collected conclude whether the attack is realizable on a physical system. Furthermore, the experiments demonstrate multiple test cases which allows for further evaluation of the attack by identifying the circumstances under which the attacker poses a legitimate threat. The attack is shown to effectively exert control over the system while also rejecting the control input of the victim. The attacker is shown to be more effective when inducing its own control than rejecting the control of the victim. Tuning of the gains can be implemented to overcome this deficiency, but causes the attack to become more easily detectable.