Researchers: Drones vulnerable to terrorist hijackingSpoofing allows for control of the drones, making them potential missles
By Homeland1 Staff
AUSTIN, Texas — The Department of Homeland Security issued a challenge early last week – hijack our drone and win $1000.
A team of researchers at the University of Texas in Austin rose to the challenge last week, successfully hacking into the drone and causing it to fly off course, according to FoxNews.
While the drone was flying over a university football stadium, they spoofed a GPS system, which essentially tricks the drone into thinking received commands are legitimate and causing it to act on them, highlighting potential security flaws in drone technology.
They managed to veer the drone off of its programmed course and nearly cause it to crash into the ground.
The Pentagon and drone manufacturers have been lobbying Congress for use of drones within the U.S. by 2015; under this pressure, Congress ordered the FAA to come up with rules to allow both government and commercial use.
Todd Humphreys, who led the team in Austin, expressed concern about hijacked drones crashing into each other, into planes or into buildings because of spoofing.
The DHS is attempting to identify and mitigate GPS interference through its new "Patriot Watch" and "Patriot Shield" programs, but at the moment they are underfunded and are geared toward finding people using jammers (people who muddle a GPS signal), not spoofers, according to the article.
Most drones that will fly over the U.S. won’t be encrypted like military drones; they will rely on civilian GPS, leaving them wide open to infiltration.
"In five or ten years you have 30,000 drones in the airspace. Each one of these could be a potential missile used against us," Humphreys said.