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OPFOR Analysis: Attack Trees and UAV Drones

An attack tree
There was a discussion over at Sipsey Street yesterday about methods to take down various Unmanned Aerial Vehicles. Various thoughts were put forth, but there wasn’t a real organization to it – not that there needs to be one, given the open source nature of our infant insurgency.

However, a little organization goes a long way, and here is a case where organizing thoughts can be very fruitful for achieving the stated goal. So let’s take this tool from the world of Computer Security and run with it: Attack trees.

To construct one, set the end goal as the root of a tree. Send out branches to other nodes, with each child node being a condition necessary to accomplish the parent node. Repeat until you arrive at a set of nodes that represent actions that you can take. As a practical exercise, let’s apply this to the UAV question.

Goal: Prevent a UAV from operating (for the exercise we’ll assume a UAV similar to the Honeywell T-Hawk)
First level nodes: shoot it down, prevent it from taking off, prevent it from collecting data, prevent it from reporting the data it collects

Note that the goal is sufficiently ambiguous as to allow several first level nodes, depending on how you define “operate”. Also note that not all child nodes are necessary to achieve the root condition – the UAV fails to operate if you prevent it from collecting data, OR if you prevent it from reporting data (In computer-ese, this is an or statement, as opposed to an and statement).

Second level, shoot it down node: rifle, shotgun, potato cannon loaded with ribbons (tangles the vertically mounted engines)
Third level, shotgun node: identify the target and engage with shotgun
Fourth level: Have one or more shotguns ready
Fifth level: Detect the UAV
Sixth level: See it, hear it, detect it with radar

Iterate as necessary.

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