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EPSRC Doctoral Prize awarded for work on security of wireless comms in air traffic control

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Oxford DPhil student Martin Strohmeier has been awarded the EPSRC Doctoral Prize. During his DPhil project, Martin analysed the changing technological environment that threatens the security of wireless communication in air traffic control (ATC) and aviation.

Martin’s current research has included the identification and analysis of vulnerabilities in the existing ATC surveillance technologies and data links. Such vulnerabilities could, for example, result in ghost aircrafts being presented onto ATC radar screens, manipulation of sensitive aircraft navigation data in real-time, or even personally-sensitive information leakage. While working together with aviation authorities, such as EUROCONTROL, to better understand the impact of such attacks on the existing systems, Martin has also contributed to the design and analysis of potential countermeasures.

In addition, Martin’s work has contributed to the development of OpenSky (http://www.opensky-network.org) – an international participatory sensor network which collects and analyses real-world navigational data transmitted by aircraft in real-time. This data is used to enable realistic performance and security analyses of the proposed countermeasures.

During the EPSRC Doctoral Prize project, Martin will examine the security challenges provided by Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) as they need to be integrated into the civil airspace, in numbers exceeding current air traffic by orders of magnitude. Concretely, the project looks at issues with the scalability of secure wireless ATC communications and the secure location verification of UAVs, to ensure a safe coexistence of manned and unmanned aircraft in the future.

The EPSRC Doctoral Prize scheme is designed to help universities recruit the best PhD students, awarding them EPSRC support to increase the impact of their PhD, and to improve retention of these students in research careers. Martin is doing his DPhil in the Systems Security Research Group of the Department of Computer Science under supervision of Professors Ivan Martinovic and Andrew Martin.

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