Developing and testing a forensic framework for civilian unmanned aerial vehicles
Date of Award
Master of Computing and Security by Research
School of Science
Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) are a technology that allows a ground operator to pilot a small aircraft remotely, with minimal training. UAVs are utilised for commercial, recreational, military, and academic uses. Many industries are adopting UAVs to assist with tasks that would place humans in danger or otherwise not be possible. The customisability of UAVs leaves room for flexibility in their operation and use, being able to be retrofitted with other technology to specialise their use; for instance, thermal imaging cameras, weight distribution apparatus to support heavier payloads, and chemical sensors. The increased use of UAVs has resulted in increased dangers of the technology, leading to incidents and investigations, often with less than satisfactory outcomes. The Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) is the legislative authority that oversees UAV usage in Australia. At present, there is no legislation able to be utilised by CASA that addresses legal processes that need to be followed if a UAV is involved in a crime. Current legislation has fallen behind the technological advancements made within the civilian UAV market. This variance in legislation maturity affects active court cases that require a defensible and validated forensic methodology to assure forensic integrity during investigations and future court proceedings. The research has contributed a novel forensic framework for undertaking digital forensic investigations against UAVs and leading successful attribution of device behaviour to an operator. The framework can be used be law enforcement investigators to conduct forensic analysis of UAVs whereby illegal behaviour can be proven and demonstrated in a court of law. This was achieved by examining issues with existing UAV forensic frameworks and taking a vendor agnostic approach for the resulting framework. Specific manufacturer and model issues arose that have not been discovered in existing research when doing preliminary testing, highlighting the rate at which UAV technology has developed and the actions that manufacturers are taking to restrict device tampering.
Access to this thesis has been embargoed until 22nd May 2024.
Garratty, C. (2023). Developing and testing a forensic framework for civilian unmanned aerial vehicles. https://doi.org/10.25958/GKGE-VQ55