Annual Computer Security Applications Conference (ACSAC) 2014

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CPS: A Security Evaluation of AIS, Automated Identification System

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AIS, Automatic Identification System, is an application of
cyber-physical systems (CPS) to smart transportation at sea.
Being primarily used for collision avoidance and traffic
monitoring by ship captains and maritime authorities,
AIS is a mandatory installation for over 300,000 vessels
worldwide since 2002. Other promoted benefits are accident
investigation, aids to navigation and search and rescue
(SAR) operations.
In this paper, we present a unique security evaluation of
AIS, by introducing threats affecting both the
implementation in online providers and the protocol
Using a novel software-based AIS transmitter that we
designed, we show that our findings affect all
transponders deployed globally on vessels and other
maritime stations like lighthouses, buoys, AIS gateways,
vessel traffic services and aircraft involved
in SAR operations.
Our concerns have been acknowledged by online providers
and international standards organizations, and we are
currently and actively working together to improve the
overall security.


Marco Balduzzi    
Trend Micro Research

Alessandro Pasta    
Independent Researcher

Kyle Wilhoit    
Trend Micro Research
United States


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