The increase usage of cybercriminals using drones as a part of their cyber-attacks is a clear and present danger. Read on to know more…
Gone are the days when drones are used exclusively by the military to target adversaries across the border. Drones, which are part of the UAV (Unnamed Aerial Vehicles) group, have certainly seen an increase in popularity in the past few years.
With drones costing from as little as $40 to $10,000 or more for specialist professional models, they can be used for any purpose. The usage of drones has gone beyond just military purposes as filmmaking, photography, and surveillance are among the many industries that are deploying drones for multiple purposes. The increase in usage has led to cybercriminals using drones as a part of their attacks.
Drones are disruptive by their nature, not least because they bring a rapid reduction in the skills operators need and one can crash an old-style remote control plane in few seconds even without any training. Low cost and easy to use, drones can deliver a “payload” to carry out surveillance, to capture data, or to disrupt networks. Making matters worse, drones are hard to detect and defeat.
One of the biggest concerns is that drones can be hacked, or other drones can be used to hack electronic devices and gather data without one’s consent. The advent of unmanned aerial vehicle technologies has posed unique challenges to the air campaigners and cybersecurity experts. In other words, drones are quickly becoming a cybersecurity nightmare. Security experts warn that hacked drones are breaching physical and cyberdefenses to cause disruption and steal data. Hackers have become potent in combining anti-cyberdefense with expertise in intelligence gathering and unmanned aerial vehicles.
Hackers may employ drones as spying devices to collect data. With an advanced microphone, they can also eavesdrop on conversations. This can affect the privacy of citizens as well as collect data from confidential government locations. Fake signals can be fed that tamper with the Global Positioning System (GPS) of the drones and this can cause massive impacts for military drones. Small computers can be attached to drones to exploit WiFi, Bluetooth, or Radio-Frequency IDentification (RFID) vulnerabilities in restricted areas.
Unfortunately for the defenders, drones are hard to spot, and even harder to disrupt. Drone features that appeal to consumer and professional operators make them a difficult target: They are smaller and quiet, and designed to overcome radio frequency interference making them hard to detect.
Technically speaking, drones have low acoustic and thermal signatures, and also low-power RF transmitters and on a radar they look like birds, and by default Air Traffic Control (ATC) radars are designed to ignore birds.
Lasers, jamming or even lower-tech measures such as using a sniper to bring down a drone raise other issues, especially over populated areas and airports.
Common Counter Measures
Cybersecurity researchers are working on ways to detect malicious drones. Some of the measures include:
• Deploying radio-frequency scanners that look for specific transmissions from drones.
• Acoustic sensors that match the drone sound against a signature database for a match
• Geofencing that involves setting up a virtual border around a physical location to detect when drones enter the marked area.
These methods come with their own set of drawbacks. There are several other methods available to detect malicious drones.