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Fortress, AUVSI Partner to Develop Industry-Driven Cyber Standards for Uncrewed Systems

Fortress Information Security recently announced a partnership with the Association for Uncrewed Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) focused on developing an enterprise cybersecurity model and a suite of voluntary standards to address cyber risks specific to uncrewed systems and robotics.

The goal is to establish the framework in less than a year.

AUVSI is the trade institution that has represented the industry since its founding in 1972, and it has been increasingly calling for better cybersecurity standards to safeguard commercial and military uncrewed systems.

Fortress secures critical industries from cybersecurity and operational threats stemming from vendors, assets, and software in their supply chains. Like in any other industry these days, cybersecurity plays a critical role in protecting uncrewed systems, a need that will only increase.

“There really isn’t anything more in terms of the future of transportation that is going to grow and change our economy than uncrewed systems and the introduction of more autonomy and automation into our vehicles,” said Michael Robbins, AUVSI’s Executive Vice President for Government and Public Affairs. “We believe that working together we can develop standards that make sense for our industries across all domains.”

Unlike other critical sectors, a number of companies developing autonomous vehicles have already invested heavily in cybersecurity, and the need for cyber defenses is well understood.

“What’s lacking is any kind of consistency and target for the industry to meet,” said Robbins. “We’re hopeful that working together as an industry we can create and set a bar that industry is incentivized to meet.”

Bringing on Fortress as a partner made sense given its past involvement in proactively developing similar standards and assessment criteria for the energy industry and the DoD and providing an architecture that allows information about vendors and products to be securely seen and shared, providing everyone greater visibility and understanding. That is a process AUVSI wants to replicate for their own sector.

“What we’re bringing to the table is that infrastructure environment to be able to securely share and present the information related to compliance with these best practices and guidelines developed in coordination with AUVSI,” said Tobias Whitney, Vice President for Strategy and Policy at Fortress. “In terms of architecture, we want to make sure that we address key elements of security, including a huge focus on understanding supply chain risks.”

A survey conducted by AUSVI within the industry found that while three quarters of respondents believe a cyber attack on an uncrewed military vehicle would be a big issue, more than two-thirds still don’t think that the US should stop using them.

“It was definitely encouraging to see that members of the industry recognize the importance of cybersecurity, that it’s a key fabric of what we’re doing as it relates to autonomous technology,” said Whitney.

Both Robbins and Whitney stressed that working closely with industry experts to develop cyber standards is key to ensuring compliance and success. Whitney cited his experience with the North American Electric Reliability Corporation, which had instituted a set of voluntary standards and policies developed by experts within the industry prior to a significant blackout that occurred in 2003.

“Before that event took place, they had a tremendous amount of support across the board, across the stakeholders, across the asset owners and operators, because they had a set of standards developed by their own community,” he said.

Because of that collaboration, resulting mandates were positively received because industry was part of the process and knew they were being heard.

Part of Fortress’ role is to leverage that experience to help mobilize what some of those expectations are and the practices and lessons learned acquired through that past work to create standards that everyone can be comfortable embracing in the end.