John Pyrgies

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Bio Data

John Pyrgies is graduated in computer sciences and management sciences and is undertaking a PhD at the Belgian Royal Military Academy (Mathematics department) and Namur University (PReCISE Research Center) in the fields of computer sciences & mathematics. His research covers a ‘software development methodology enabling an effective, efficient & profitable DO178C certification for avionics software embedded in micro/mini RPAS’. The outcomes of this research will be exploited in drones applications supporting the critical missions of public & military forces: Search & Rescue, reconnaissance for the special forces, rogue drone interception…
John has acquired a 28 years professional experience in Information Technology, mostly in engineering software (requirements elicitation & specification) supporting critical information systems (banking sector) and developed under agile/iterative/waterfall methodologies. He has a sound experience in cybersecurity (threat analysis, security architecture, cryptography…) and also has expertise in legal & financial aspects of software engineering.
End 2014, he founded SkyAngels, a startup company aimed to support his RPAS research activities whose current themes are: a) Cybersecurity measures aimed at protecting governmental RPAS; b) Protection of the community against ‘rogue’ drones (e.g. used as a vector for leading or preparing a terrorist attack); c) Specification, Verification & Certification of avionics software embedded in RPAS; d) RPAS applications supporting critical missions of civil security, police and military forces. The presentation is co-authored by Major Dr.Ir. Robby Haelterman, Mathematics Professor at the RMA and promotor of his thesis.


There is a growing trend in using commercial off-the-shelf and customized micro-RPAS to support the critical missions of civil security, police and military forces: Observation over industrial and forest fires, toxic gazes measurement in chemical accidents, radioactivity sensing in nuclear disasters, urgent medicines and life-critical medical equipment delivery, site reconnaissance preparing the intervention of special forces, surveillance of demos and major sport events, border controls, fight against drug smuggling and criminal activities, roads traffic monitoring, lost people searches, sea rescue, anti-personnel mines detection, battlefield recce missions… Some police departments in U.S. are even equipping micro-drones with non-lethal weapons. However, due to the high dependence of Unmanned Aircraft Systems on information and communication technologies, there is a risk that those new kind of ‘state aircrafts’ are victim of cyberattacks that would capture the data they collect, compromise the critical mission they support or even threaten the safety of people should this cyberattack make them crash on the ground or collide with a manned governmental aircraft participating to the same mission… In this presentation, we will follow a threat modeling approach to identify possible attack scenarios against a micro-drone that would exploit the vulnerabilities of its software and radiocommunication components (mission data eavesdropping, GNSS spoofing, C2 data link jamming, session hijacking), the potential impacts on the mission of the RPAS and the countermeasures to detect and mitigate the identified attacks (encryption, data origin authentication, frequency hopping, navigation data fusion…).