World-renowned expert in cyber security and cryptography expert Distinguished Professor Willy Susilo in an IT lab at UOW.

UOW-led project aims to protect drones from cyber attacks

UOW-led project aims to protect drones from cyber attacks

Cyber security experts win ARC Linkage Program funding to safeguard unmanned aerial vehicles

A University of Wollongong (UOW) led project to improve security measures for unmanned aerial vehicles, such as drones, against adversarial machine-learning attacks has been awarded $445,000 funding under the Australian Research Council (ARC) Linkage Projects Scheme.

The project aligns with the Australian Government’s strategy of promoting and protecting critical and emerging technologies.

The project team is led by Distinguished Professor Willy Susilo, a world-renowned expert in cyber security and cryptography, who said the team would use innovative approaches to safeguard unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) systems from attacks that exploit vulnerabilities in machine learning models.

The team includes UOW Faculty of Engineering and Information Sciences researchers Associate Professor Jun Yan, Professor Son Lam Phung, Dr Yannan Li, Associate Professor Yang-Wai (Casey) Chow and Professor Jun Shen.

“Unmanned aerial vehicle-related technologies offer significant economic, environmental and social benefits to Australia, in logistics, environmental monitoring, smart farming, bushfire and disaster management and so on,” Professor Susilo said.

“However, machine learning models on UAV systems are vulnerable to adversarial attacks, which impedes the large-scale adoption of UAVs by industry. Our project aims to develop robust defences for UAV systems to protect them against adversarial machine learning attacks.”

“We will investigate various adversarial attacks on UAVs and develop effective countermeasures against them.”

Developing robust defences for UAV systems would provide significant benefits, such as increasing the reliable use of UAVs for transport and logistics services.

“The improved security of UAV systems resulting from this research will facilitate the reliable adoption of UAVs to support urban and regional communities,” Professor Susilo said.

Deloitte Access Economics estimates that the Australian UAV industry will create 5,500 new jobs annually, increase Australia’s Gross Domestic Product by $14.5 billion and deliver cost savings of $9.3 billion across all sectors by 2040.

The ARC Linkage Program promotes national and international research partnerships between higher education institutions and other parts of the research innovation system. Partners in the project are Sky Shine Innovation, Hover UAV, Charles Sturt University and University of Southern Queensland.