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Military Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Smart Device Ground Control Station Qualitative Threat Assessment Open Access

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The Department of the Defense (DOD) has transitioned smart devices onto the battlefield as a portable, handheld unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) ground control station (GCS) without adequate cybersecurity protections, which places critical missions and their data at risk. Industry has developed software applications for smart phones and tablets that allow soldiers to pilot UAVs and also receive and share intelligence and reconnaissance videos and images remotely from the portable, handheld smart device GCS. The DOD has released a plan to incorporate certification, standards, policies, and technology to provide a secure operational environment over the next five years; however, these security tools are not currently available for deployed UAV smart device GCSs. The DOD has failed to develop a threat assessment to identify these threats and ensure the proper security countermeasures are designed into the UAV smart device GCS system. This dissertation develops an enhanced threat model approach that analyzes cybersecurity vulnerabilities within the communication network, smart devices hardware, software applications, as well as the insider threat (humans). Additionally, to help prioritize resources to address the high-risk threats, the threat assessment provides a qualitative risk assessment of the threat profile of the UAV smart device GCS system. This comprehensive threat assessment will help designers and users in the military and civilian UAV communities understand the threat profile of their systems and enhance the security and operational environment of the UAV smart device GCS. Most importantly, the secured devices will provide soldiers with the secure, enhanced mission capabilities needed to protect them in the battlefield.

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