A Novel Approach to Reduce Breaches of Aircraft Communication Data

Shahzaib Tahir, Muhammad Arslan Shahbaz , Hasan Tahir, Muhammad Awais, Fawad Khan, Ruhma Tahir, Saqib Saeed , Abdullah M. Almuhaideb

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
1 Downloads (Pure)


Aircraft are complex systems that rely heavily on monitoring and real-time communications with the base station. During aviation and flight operations, diverse data are gathered from different sources, including the Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR), Flight Data Recorder (FDR), logbook, passenger data, passenger manifest etc. Given the high sensitivity of flight data, it is an attractive target for adversaries which could result in operational, financial and safety related incidents. Communications between aircraft pilots and air traffic controllers are all unencrypted. The data, mainly audio communication files, are placed openly within data centers on the ground stations which could lead to a serious compromise in security and privacy. One may rely on the cloud owing to its on-demand features but to thwart possible attacks, the data need to be encrypted first, giving rise to the issue of conducting search over encrypted data. This research presents a novel approach for data security in aviation industry by introducing a semantic-based searchable encryption scheme over the cloud. The designed system has proven to be extraordinarily effective for semantic-based searchable encryption at the word and the text level. The rigorous security and complexity analysis shows that the proposed solution provides a high level of security and efficiency and can be effectively deployed in the aviation sector. The designed scheme is tested through a real-world aviation dataset collected to demonstrate the significance of this research. The proof of concept proves to be secure, privacy-preserving and lightweight while resisting distinguishability attacks.

Original languageEnglish
Article number172
Number of pages24
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 30 Dec 2022
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

© 2022 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)


This research is funded by the SAUDI ARAMCO Cybersecurity Chair at Imam Abdulrahman Bin Faisal University in Saudi Arabia.


  • aviation communication
  • ground stations
  • inverted index
  • searchable encryption
  • semantic search
  • trapdoor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Signal Processing
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Hardware and Architecture
  • Computer Networks and Communications


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