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CHALLENGE 3.3
SHIELDS UP! SECURING PUBLIC SAFETY UAS NAVIGATION & CONTROL
COMPETE FOR UP TO $200,000!

ABOUT

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Public Safety Communications Research Division (PSCR) announces the Shields Up! Securing Public Safety UAS Navigation and Control Challenge (Shields Up Challenge); a 3-stage prize competition that uses your ingenuity and cybersecurity skills to solve threats and vulnerabilities associated with Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS). The Challenge seeks skills, ingenuity, expertise, and innovation to improve security on UAS control channels and navigation functions, with prize awards of up to $200,000. You can make a difference! To enter for Stage 1, submit your entry starting August 2, 2021 with a deadline of September 30, 2021. Continue reading to learn more about challenge stages and details. No fees or qualifications are needed to enter the first stage. 

 

GOALS AND OBJECTIVES

The purpose of the Shields Up Challenge is to explore and advance the cybersecurity of UAS technology to support first responders in their missions. The use of UAS expands public safety's ability to gather critical data, whether they be from video, cameras, sensors, or peripherals, and allows them to obtain this information more quickly and efficiently than deploying boots-on-the-ground. 

Public safety uses a myriad of solutions for their UAS needs, including commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) UAS and open-source/do-it-yourself (DIY) hardware and software. The term UAS applies to many types of aircraft that are being incorporated into public safety missions:

• Crime scene processing             • Fire or explosives                                            • Search and rescue missions

• Cross-agency aid                         • Infrastructure inspections                             • Special events or public safety assessments

• Damage assessment                  • Major traffic accident investigations.          • Tactical deployment

• Disaster response                                                                                                    • Terrorism response

 

As UAS technology becomes more pervasive in the public safety mission, it will become crucial to protect these assets from disruptions in navigation and control. 

 

The public safety use case for UAS is multifaceted. However, all UAS must maintain controlled flight and successful navigation at their core in order to complete their missions. A UAS that flies to the wrong location or is delayed in reaching a time-crucial objective is as good as a UAS that has not taken flight. A UAS that is hijacked due to a malicious attacker not only jeopardizes public safety missions, it also compromises responder assets. In both of these cases, the compromised UAS causes mission failure. 

 

Contestants in this Challenge are required to frame their threats and countermeasures concerning the disruption and preservation of UAS navigation and control to prevent mission failure:

  • UAS Navigation - The ability of the UAS to successfully move between two points within 3D (three dimensional) airspace.

  • UAS Control - The ability for a pilot-controlled UAS to successfully maintain flight control within a 3D airspace.

 

With the innovative solutions discovered through this Challenge, PSCR seeks to improve UAS cybersecurity for state and local first responders as they deploy UAS for law enforcement, firefighters, and other emergency services. To accomplish this, we seek to:

  • Identify real-world threats to UAS flight, navigation, and control technologies

  • Identify countermeasures for these threats 

  • Demonstrate the threat and countermeasures on a functional UAS. 

Contestants are required to demonstrate attacks on open-source software for UAS navigation and/or control. Contestants are encouraged to use innovation and creativity when designing their countermeasures. Possible solutions include but are not limited to:

  • Updates and/or modifications to existing open source software

  • Newly developed software

  • Newly developed hardware

  • Secure UAS configuration guidance.

OFFICIAL CHALLENGE 3.3 RULES

CHALLENGE 3.3 LAUNCH WEBINAR

Download the webinar presentation

CHALLENGE STAGES

The Shields Up Challenge is a 3-stage competition to explore and advance the cybersecurity of UAS technology to support first responders in their missions. The use of UAS expands public safety's ability to gather critical data, whether they be from video, cameras, sensors, or peripherals, and allows them to obtain this information more quickly and efficiently than deploying boots-on-the-ground. Below is a summary of each stage of the Challenge.

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