Drones have become immensely popular all across the world and today drones can be bought and flown by anyone. People use drones for different purposes, ranging from filmmaking and photography to surveillance and agriculture. The trend to use drones for delivering packages and to ship medical samples is also picking up.
Well, for any technology, there’s the likelihood of a negative side being there as well. This applies to drone technology too. Today, we’ll discuss how drones have turned out to be a rising threat in cybersecurity. We’ll discuss how drones can be hacked and also how drones can be used for hacking other devices and to carry out data breaches. We’ll also discuss how the issue of the malicious use of drones can be tackled.
Discussing the malicious use of drones
Drones definitely pose a great threat to people’s privacy and are being used as spying devices. There are even reports of burglars using drones for scouting houses they plan to rob. By making use of 3-D imaging and by employing Wi-Fi, drones can even help see through walls and also in creating 3D plans of buildings that criminals seek to access. In addition to invasions of privacy, there have been incidents when drones have caused interruptions and disturbances, like for example the instance of as many as thousand flights being stopped and people’s travel plans being affected following drone sightings at the Gatwick Airport in 2018. Today, though many countries don’t have any kind of drone laws in place, there are some countries, including the U.S and the UK, that have regulations governing the use of drones.
Drone technology is now being made use of by cybercriminals, who plan and execute sophisticated kinds of cyberattacks using the technology. They do data breaches, hack servers, network spying etc using the technology. As a result of the malicious use of drones, corporate networks get impacted and hence companies should have in place concrete security measures to protect their networks from cyberattacks.
How drones are used for data breaches
There are different ways in which cybercriminals use drones for carrying out data breaches. They would attach a small computer, like Raspberry Pi, to a drone, which would then be flown over places where they wouldn’t otherwise be able to enter, and then, using the computer attached to the drone, exploit different kinds of vulnerabilities, including Bluetooth vulnerabilities, Wi-Fi vulnerabilities and Radio-Frequency Identification (RFI) vulnerabilities. Drones that are connected to laptops or smartphones and that use certain spying software can be used to intercept sensitive data from phones, including banking credentials, card data etc. Drones equipped with radio receivers could be used for Bluetooth mouse-hijacking, for keystroke logging, for credential stealing etc as well.
There are also possibilities of cybercriminals hacking drones and causing trouble to people. An attacker could hijack a drone using GPS spoofing and then even crash the drone or use it for some other purposes.
How to detect and stop malicious drones
If drone technology is getting widely used, as misused as well, the anti-drone market too is expanding. Efforts are always on to detect and fight malicious drones. There are researches being done in the EU as regards using the KNOX project to detect and disable malicious drones. There are also attempts going on to develop IoT solutions to combat the issue of malicious drones. The other methods that are used to detect malicious drones include geofencing (setting up virtual boundaries within physical locations and detecting drones that trespass into prohibited areas), radar detection systems, acoustic sensors (which detect drones by recognizing the unique sounds they generate and then running them against a sound signatures database), RF scanners ( by examining and detecting the electromagnetic spectrum) and thermal imaging (by detecting heat emitted by the drones). Though each of these methods has its own disadvantages and limitations too, they are no doubt effective techniques for using against drones and drone-based cyberattacks.
Lots of research is being done and efforts are on to prevent instances of cybersecurity breaches that could be carried out using drone technology.