Triton: A Software-Reconfigurable Federated Avionics Testbed


Sam Crow and Brown Farinholt, UC San Diego; Brian Johannesmeyer, VU Amsterdam; Karl Koscher, University of Washington; Stephen Checkoway, Oberlin College; Stefan Savage, Aaron Schulman, and Alex C. Snoeren, UC San Diego; Kirill Levchenko, University of Illinois

Long Preliminary Work Paper


This paper describes the Triton federated-avionics security testbed that supports testing real aircraft electronic systems for security vulnerabilities. Because modern aircraft are complex systems of systems, the Triton testbed allows multiple systems to be instantiated for analysis in order to observe the aggregate behavior of multiple aircraft systems and identify their potential impact on flight safety. We describe two attack scenarios that motivated the design of the Triton testbed: ACARS message spoofing and the software update process for aircraft systems. The testbed allows us to analyze both scenarios to determine whether adversarial interference in their expected operation could cause harm. This paper does not describe any vulnerabilities in real aircraft systems; instead, it describes the design of the Triton testbed and our experiences using it.

One of the key features of the Triton testbed is the ability to mix simulated, emulated, and physical electronic systems as necessary for a particular experiment or analysis task. A physical system may interact with a simulated component or a system whose software is running in an emulator. To facilitate rapid reconfigurability, Triton is also entirely software reconfigurable: all wiring between components is virtual and can be changed without physical access to components. A prototype of the Triton testbed is used at two universities to evaluate the security of aircraft systems.

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@inproceedings {238232,
author = {Sam Crow and Brown Farinholt and Brian Johannesmeyer and Karl Koscher and Stephen Checkoway and Stefan Savage and Aaron Schulman and Alex C. Snoeren and Kirill Levchenko},
title = {Triton: A {Software-Reconfigurable} Federated Avionics Testbed},
booktitle = {12th USENIX Workshop on Cyber Security Experimentation and Test (CSET 19)},
year = {2019},
address = {Santa Clara, CA},
url = {},
publisher = {USENIX Association},
month = aug