Purdue University Graduate School
PhD_Thesis_Taegyu_Kim.pdf (8.54 MB)

Cyber-Physical Analysis and Hardening of Robotic Aerial Vehicle Controllers

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posted on 2021-05-06, 01:52 authored by Taegyu KimTaegyu Kim
Robotic aerial vehicles (RAVs) have been increasingly deployed in various areas (e.g., commercial, military, scientific, and entertainment). However, RAVs’ security and safety issues could not only arise from either of the “cyber” domain (e.g., control software) and “physical” domain (e.g., vehicle control model) but also stem in their interplay. Unfortunately, existing work had focused mainly on either the “cyber-centric” or “control-centric” approaches. However, such a single-domain focus could overlook the security threats caused by the interplay between the cyber and physical domains.
In this thesis, we present cyber-physical analysis and hardening to secure RAV controllers. Through a combination of program analysis and vehicle control modeling, we first developed novel techniques to (1) connect both cyber and physical domains and then (2) analyze individual domains and their interplay. Specifically, we describe how to detect bugs after RAV accidents using provenance (Mayday), how to proactively find bugs using fuzzing (RVFuzzer), and how to patch vulnerable firmware using binary patching (DisPatch). As a result, we have found 91 new bugs in modern RAV control programs, and their developers confirmed 32 cases and patch 11 cases.


Degree Type

  • Doctor of Philosophy


  • Electrical and Computer Engineering

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Dongyan Xu

Additional Committee Member 2

Dave (Jing) Tian

Additional Committee Member 3

Xiaojun Lin

Additional Committee Member 4

Xiangyu Zhang

Additional Committee Member 5

Vijay Raghunathan

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