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Cyber Defence Campus Participation at the DEF CON

This August, employees from the Cyber Defence Campus, armasuisse S+T, took part in the international hacker conference DEF CON. Their talks included presentations about their research activities in the area of cyber security in the aerospace sector. In parallel, the CYD Campus held a separate «Capture-the-Flag» task.

30.08.2020 | Strohmeier Martin, armasuisse Science and Technology, Cyber-Defence Campus


The 28th international hacker conference DEF CON took place between August 7 and 9, 2020. DEF CON, from the English Defence Convention, is the largest leading event for hackers and security researchers in the entire world. Due to the continuing Corona crisis, this task was held virtually for the first time instead of physically in Las Vegas as usual.

The Cyber Defence Campus, known in brief as the CYD Campus of armasuisse Science + Technology, was able on this occasion in Switzerland to explain to the participants its mission to strengthen Switzerland’s cyber security.

Specifically, employees from the CYD Campus held presentations on the research activities which they are currently performing in the area of cyber security in the critical infrastructures of the aerospace sector. Such critical infrastructures include, for example, the connections between aeroplanes and air traffic controllers or radar and satellite communication. For example, CYD Campus scientist Dr. Martin Strohmeier and Guillaume Michel, student at the EPF Lausanne, in the Aerospace Village, a virtual environment on aeronautical topics, reported on their most recent findings in the area of cyber security in aviation. Among other topics, the lack of confidentiality with regard to the personal data of passengers and crews was discussed, and ways to improve this analysed. James Pavur, PhD student at the University of Oxford, presented his research on security in satellite communication, which is based on a successful collaboration with the CYD Campus.


In parallel to the three-day event, a separate «Capture the Flag» task was held, in which participants had to solve various difficult tasks within a specified time. This challenge and the tasks to be solved were created and carried out by the CYD Campus in collaboration with the University of Oxford. For this reason, none of the CYD Campus employees took part. The main topic of this challenge was security gaps in communication protocols of aviation which could disclose sensitive or private data of passengers and operators. The corresponding tasks included an analysis of various encryption procedures as well as the tracking of planes with publicly accessible information and databases. In total, 55 hackers from all over the world registered, but only twelve teams could solve at least one of the set tasks successfully.

For the CYD Campus, participation in the 28th DEF CON event was an exciting experience and a good opportunity to exchange ideas with researchers and practitioners from academia, international authorities and industry and to be able to establish new contacts. The next DEF CON will take place in August 2021 and the CYD Campus will also take part again.