Drone Cryptography

Dr. Ahmad Salman
Assistant Professor of Integrated Science and Technology

Dr. William Diehl
Assistant Professor of Engineering

Dr. Ahmad Salman and Dr. Will Diehl first met in 2014 when Diehl joined the Cryptographic Engineering Research Group at GMU. Although they went their separate ways when Salman was hired by JMU and Diehl started working at Virginia Tech, a JMU article about Salman’s drone project brought them back together.

“You know what we should do,” Diehl said after reading the article, “we should put our public-key algorithm implementation on the drone to secure its signals.” Salman liked the idea and they received funding through a 4-VA grant to collaborate on the project.

“The rapid growth of drone usage has created a need to secure the data they collect,” said Salman, “especially for sensitive applications, such as military and industrial applications. The problem with public-key cryptography in particular is that they are computationally intensive protocols and if not implemented efficiently, they require a lot of power to perform computations. For battery powered devices such as drones and IoT devices, battery life is everything for practicality which means that any cryptographic implementations need to be very efficient in terms of power and energy consumption. Creating lightweight cryptographic algorithms is a specialty of Will’s and mine and we knew that we could make something good working together on this.”

Our project has opened new doors to this area of research as not too many open research studies have been conducted on securing drone signals and data.