Secure Broadcast Protocol for Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Swarms


The technology advancement has made Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) swarm a promising method to achieve complicated missions that a single UAV cannot support. Leader-followers formation is a widely used swarm management scenario where a leader drone frequently broadcasts controlling messages to all follower drones to achieve collaboratively a common mission. However, managing such a UAV swarm, especially when the member drones dynamically join and leave the swarm, introduces significant security challenges and performance overhead.In this work, we propose a Swarm Broadcast Protocol (SBP) to facilitate the security protection of leader-followers formation based UAV swarms. SBP contains a security key management scheme that manages a broadcast key among the swarm for leader to broadcast encrypted messages to followers. When swarm membership changes, the broadcast key will be updated and synchronized among the swarm to maintain both backward and forward secrecy. The overhead of SBP is small that only constant computational overhead is needed for both swarm leader and followers to achieve key synchronization when a new drone joins regardless of the current swarm size. This feature would highly reduce the overhead when there are many individual drone joining events. Through experiments on network emulator, we show that SBP achieves lowest bandwidth overhead and CPU utilization to handle multiple swarm membership changing events, comparing with two public-key-based swarm management protocol baselines.

In Proceedings of 29th International Conference on Computer Communications and Networks
Hongpeng Guo
Hongpeng Guo
Ph.D. Candidate in Computer Science