The Repository @ St. Cloud State

Open Access Knowledge and Scholarship

Date of Award


Culminating Project Type


Degree Name

Information Assurance: M.S.


Information Assurance and Information Systems


Herberger School of Business

First Advisor

Paul Safonov

Second Advisor

Jie Meichsner

Third Advisor

Erich Rice

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Keywords and Subject Headings

AIS, authentication, maritime, digital signature


Automatic Identification System, commonly known as AIS, is a maritime communication system that is used to keep track of positions and activities of ships. It is widely implemented all around the world, and mandated on vessels over a certain size according to the International Maritime Organization. It is a signal broadcast over radio frequencies that contains ship characteristics, position, speed, and other information. AIS is also being implemented in aids to navigation, supplementing and in some cases replacing traditional aids such as lighthouses and buoys. The protocol standard contains no security, leaving AIS vulnerable to spoofing, hijacking, and denial of service attacks. This paper explores the possible consequences of AIS exploitation, as well as options to mitigate risk. Digital signature authentication of AIS signals is examined with particular attention paid to the feasibility and challenges of wide scale implementation. Ultimately the potential benefits of digital signature authentication are considered to be outweighed by the challenges of implementation.