Date of Award


Degree Name

Computer Science


College of Engineering and Computer Sciences

Type of Degree


Document Type


First Advisor

Dr. Cong Pu, Committee Chairperson

Second Advisor

Dr. Husnu Narman

Third Advisor

Dr. Jamil Chaudri


Micro aerial vehicles a.k.a. drones, have become an integral part of a variety of civilian and military application domains, including but not limited to aerial surveying and mapping, aerial surveillance and security, aerial inspection of infrastructure, and aerial delivery. Meanwhile, the cybersecurity of drones is gaining significant attention due to both financial and strategic information and value involved in aerial applications. As a result of the lack of security features in the communication protocol, an adversary can easily interfere with on-going communications or even seize control of the drone. In this thesis, we propose a lightweight digital signature protocol, also referred to as DroneSig, to protect drones from a man-in-the-middle attack, where an adversary eavesdrops the communication between Ground Control Station (GCS) and drone, and impersonates the GCS and sends fake commands to terminate the on-going mission or even take control over the drone. The basic idea of the DroneSig is that the drone will only execute the new command after validating the received digital signature from the GCS, proving that the new command message is coming from the authenticated GCS. If the validation of the digital signature fails, the new command is rejected immediately, and the Return-to-Launch (RTL) mode is initiated and forces the drone to return to the take-off position. We conduct extensive simulation experiments for performance evaluation and comparison using OMNeT++, and simulation results show that the proposed lightweight digital signature protocol achieves better performance in terms of energy consumption and computation time compared to the standard Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) cryptographic technique.


Drone aircraft -- Control systems.

Digital signatures -- Standards.