Drones and cyber security – What’s the deal?

The internet of things is increasingly coming under threat. Drones have become more widespread as companies adopt them for commercial purposes, like videography or parcel delivery – something Amazon is intending to do.  Once only reserved and intended for military use, drones are now available to consumers and for commercial use they have become so popular that there is now even a ‘dronecode’ in the UK – a set of rules on where you can and can’t fly them.

Francis Brown, a partner at cyber security consulting firm Bishop Fox, called them ‘laptops that can fly’. So what is the threat that drones pose to our cyber security? Let us explain…

What is a drone?

A drone is an aeronautical term referring to an unmanned aircraft also known as a UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle). It is like a flying robot which can be controlled remotely.

What’s the threat of drones?

A drone can be used to attack WiFi, Bluetooth and other wireless connections, such as contactless payment cards. This can make it easy for hackers to intercept a connected device in your home and collect sensitive data. The drones could be used to target devices like Bluetooth-connected keyboards, where passwords and usernames can be obtained by recording people’s keystrokes.

What’s being done to stop it?

Some companies have developed ways to keep their networks protected. An example of this is the DroneDefender by US company Battelle, which uses radio waves to knock drones out of the sky.

The threat of drones is such that the government has even set up a drone-hacking cybersecurity boot camp that will launch this year. The 10-week course will teach fifty chosen candidates that have never worked in cyber security how to hack into drones and break codes. It will pack two years’ worth of training into less than 3 months and has been brought about as a response to the ‘cyber security skills gap’.*

What you can do

There are many vulnerabilities in the devices we use that are connected, especially when these connections are left open or not protected. As drones become more popular, ensure your devices, such as a Bluetooth keyboard or printer, are protected with the correct security to prevent giving cybercriminals access to your home or network.

As with any new technology, hackers and criminals will always find ways to exploit them. The best thing you can do is stay protected and be vigilant with your devices when connected to the internet.


*BBC http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-37848549