DailyPost 634


The Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, UAV, now popularly known as drones, after it got into large scale civilian and commercial usage. It’s genesis is from the Defence, which have better security. In common domain parlance it is known as the Professional UAVs. Drones will dot the sky in a manner imaginable depending on how fast we start using them for long array of purposes they are meant for. Anything worthwhile gets hacked in today’s world, drones are no different.

Getting hacked is the new normal. Drones have some typical technical issues which makes it the most hackable product in the digital age. Civilian more. Security is often an after thought. A John Hopkins University researcher says the value of their work is in showing that the technology in these drones is highly vulnerable to hackers. He gives three examples; first of Digital Deluge leading to uncontrolled landing, second, sending large data packets making the drone to crash and third, sending fake digital packets with the drone ending up in making emergency landing.

Hacking drones dates back to Dec 2011, when an RQ-Sentinel 170 was lost to Iran and just before that the keylogging virus their infected an UAV fleet at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada. Hacking drones is neither costly or complex. Flaws in security of radio system of some high end drones used for governmental purposes, costing in the range of $30,000-$35,000, can allow the hacker to take control with a laptop and a cheap radio connected via USB.

Even more amazing is that the Wi-Fi connection between its telemetry module & a user’s tablet uses weak WEP or wired-equivalent Privacy encryption, long known to be crackable in seconds. Worse, the connection between that telemetry module & the drone itself uses an even less-secured radio protocol. As drone data becomes more critical & valuable and the industry matures, better security standards would automatically follow.


Sanjay Sahay

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