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The MIL-1553 protocol was released long before cybersecurity was an issue for the military.

Consequently, in recent years, the DoD has made it a priority to focus on cybersecurity issues including MIL-1553, which was originally released in the early 1970s as a standardized, reliable, and fault tolerant communication bus to provide connectivity between different embedded components in mission-critical military vehicles.

The bus was designed with a great focus on reliability, responsiveness, and fault tolerance. However, its security aspects were an afterthought. The MIL-1553 bus was found to be  vulnerable to many attacks that could seriously damage the entire system.

The problem was that rebuilding the security of the MIL-STD-1553 from scratch was cost-prohibitive and a very complex, not scalable, and inflexible approach.

Instead, new components were introduced to support artificial intelligence/machine learning (AI/ML) algorithms. These algorithms provide anomaly and intrusion detection, logging, warning, and possible mitigation.

The approaches included introducing new hardware modules running cyber software applications, either in a distributed or centralized manner, to act as traffic cops for each subsystem.

Another approach was to modify the software/hardware of each existing subsystem, thereby making each unit more capable.

Some industry efforts are focused on developing high technology-readiness levels (TRL) for these approaches.

Adding effective cybersecurity elements to MIL-1553 is essential for satisfying the Risk Management Framework (RMF), a U.S. federal government policy and set of standards developed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in Gaithersburg, Maryland, for the assessment and authorization of mission systems.

Analysts contend that increasingly, U.S. military programs are using RMF to address cyber security and trusted-computing requirements, and for some systems, it is required to get an Approval to Operate (ATO). Because RMF is a system-level certification, it is for certifying whole systems – not just an individual component.

Want to learn more? Tonex offers MIL-1553 Cybersecurity Training, a 2-day training course that address MIL-1553 cybersecurity issues.

MIL-1553 Cybersecurity training introduces a set of workshops and group activities of real world case studies in order to prepare you to tackle the entire related RMF challenges applied to MIL-1553 capable platforms and systems.

For more information, questions, comments, contact us.

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