In the growing technological world, security has become paramount. Where data has become a commodity, guarding confidential data has become rather costly. The advancements that have taken place in the field of computer science have brought forth a number of solutions to guard classified data and digital assets. Blockchain is one of them. The distributed ledger technology not only provides security, but also promises transparency, immutability and reliability. The newest incubator of this technology is the United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
NASA has made the announcement through a paper that was published elaborating that the organization will be leveraging blockchain to form an air traffic management system, the document states,
The design innovation is the use of an open source permissioned blockchain framework to enable aircraft privacy and anonymity while providing a secure and efficient method for communication with Air Traffic Services, Operations Support, or other authorized entities.
The need for the permissioned blockchain arose from the fact that they had previously announced that they will not provide air traffic control services to aircrafts, which fail to equip themselves with ADS-B by 2020. But aviation and the US military have been lagging behind in their implementation schedule. It had been also known that the ADS-B had a number of unresolved issues that needed to be taken care of. The stakeholders have been hesitant to incorporate these because of the reason that the Automatic Dependent Surveillance Broadcast, broadcast the traffic data all over the place, which made it accessible to everyone in a specified range. This is what makes the whole thing vulnerable to spoofing, false aircraft position reports.
To make the necessary changes a lot of the mechanism in ADS-B need to be revisited and a solution that is efficient and widely accepted needs to be drawn up, which could mean replacing the infrastructure as well as the equipment that has been put into place.
The paper that was published elaborated the details about the permissioned blockchain that is being developed to help mitigate the issues in the ADS-B. The permissioned blockchain can ensure an aircraft’s privacy as well as its anonymity. In addition to this, it would also permit an efficient and secure means of communication between aircraft, Air Traffic Services and Operations Support. The blockchain also provides smart contracts, which are utilized in order to share data under the terms and conditions specified within the contract.
Hyperledger fabric is being leveraged in the implementation of this platform. The reason for using this particular fabric is that its use cases closely resemble to that of systems that require additional security and authentication protocols. It can also provide private channels that are capable of transmitting confidential data at exceptionally high speed. For the military to keep their missions and their confidential information to themselves, the hyperledger fabric can provide the desired level of security and anonymity.
The preexisting radar based air traffic systems do provide privacy to the military institutions, making only a selection of flight plans public, these same features of privacy are to be exhibited by the prototype by the incorporation of Fabric Certificate Authority for the registration of entities, issuance, renewal and revocation of Enrollment Certificates.
This isn’t the first time NASA has delved into blockchain. It has also had amiable feelings towards the technology in the past, awarding generous fundings to create an artificially intelligent blockchain-based spacecraft system.
To conclude, blockchain is a means for carrying out secure transactions. Its use cases are endless as it provides a means of tamper proof communication and data transfer. Blockchain can ensure the kind of security that is required to keep the confidentiality of information intact by keeping out third parties which is proved by bigger, stronger organizations like NASA’s adoptions of the technology.