NASA Eyes Blockchain Tech to Secure Aircraft Flight Data

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NASA - the National Aeronautics and Space Administration - is examining blockchain technology as a means to ensure the privacy and security of aircraft flight data.

Ronald Reisman, an aero-computer engineer at NASA Ames Research Center, published a paper on Monday, suggesting that blockchain networks and smart contracts can help mitigate some security issues.

Civil aircraft companies would prefer to keep some data private, he writes, for example, to counter tracking executives as part of corporate espionage operations.

Military aircraft traffic data is defined by the Department of Defense as "Information that, if disclosed, would reveal vulnerabilities in the DoD critical infrastructure and, if exploited, would likely result in the significant disruption, destruction, or damage of or to DoD operations, property, or facilities."

To address these and other issues, the researcher presents a prototype in the paper, dubbed the Aviation Blockchain Infrastructure, based on Hyperledger Fabric and smart contracts, which allows control over what data is shared publicly or privately with authorized entities.

Could be kept secure via a private channel, while flight-plan information, such as aircraft type, origin, destination, filed route, etc.

"We propose to use a 'lightly permissioned' blockchain framework to enable the ADS-B systems to meet or exceed the same levels of privacy and security currently provided by radar-based systems in the NAS.".

This is not the first time that the NASA has set out to explore blockchain seeking technological improvements.

A professor at the University of Akron, to support research on ethereum blockchain technology to automatically detect floating debris.

NASA image via Shutterstock; diagram via NASA paper.