In today’s ever-accelerating technological world, it’s no surprise that drones have been evolving to every imaginable end. Recent FAA reports indicate that while there are currently over 770,000 registered drones in the US, that number is expected to “more than triple in size from 1.1 million UAVs [currently, including unregistered and commercial drones] to 3.55 million, and the number of commercial vehicles to grow tenfold to 442,000 by 2021. Pilot licenses, meanwhile, will jump from 37,000 to 281,300 in five years.” -Engadget.com
While the vast majority of drones have been utilized in an ethical and legal fashion, the door is wide open for opportunistic exploitation by those who would wish us harm. Whether it’s hacking attempts on your personal Wi-Fi or the creep down the road that won’t let your daughter tan in privacy, drones pose a considerable threat to our personal safety and security. In this article, we will be discussing drone defense and why it’s so important.
Drone Defense: Protecting Yourself From Possible Threats
First, we will review the two main purposes that drones have been developed for. Between data collection and physically interacting with their environment, drones have an incredibly wide range of capabilities. Both capabilities have their own unique challenges that we will explore. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly to you, we will explore what headway has been made in the drone defense market. While the more popular solutions like AR-15 attachments have been limited to government use only, we do have some simple steps you can take to better defend your property from drone surveillance or even attacks.
Drones For Data Collection
Drone development always begins with the best intentions. Unfortunately, opportunistic criminals can repurpose this technology to their own devious ends with little to no previous training. Data collection of all kinds is a way for hackers to cast a massive dragnet to capture as much information as possible and then use their own systems to pick out valuable information.
So, what kind of data are drones currently capable of collecting? From nearly the beginning, drones have been equipped with a live video feed to assist the operator when it flies out of direct line of sight. Since then, countless video configurations have been imagined by drone enthusiasts. This capability of remote flight came with its gaps though. Primary, this revolves around our unspecified air rights. The little case law that has preceded us very loosely and unofficially defines the end of your private airspace at somewhere between 80 and 500 feet.
Due to the justice system not clearly defining at what height our air rights end, drone operators have been caught spying on private property while homeowners conduct private affairs. If you follow that embedded link you’ll read a story about a dad who shot down a drone over his property for spying on his teenage daughter but was later charged with two property crimes for doing so. While the Kentucky solution may not be legally appropriate in every situation, we will address that method later on.
Even bird watchers have adapted drones to their profession by using directional microphones and quieter motors to better track songbirds. Again, the possibility for illegal surveillance surfaces here with little room for recourse or defense.
What do all these have in common? Electronic signals. Therein lies our biggest vulnerability to malicious drone operators. Whether your private Wi-Fi network, or the network at your office; self-contained networks’ (especially intranets) main strength is that they require hackers to be on-site to break into the network. While the physical location has been a deterrent to most criminals, the ability to remotely operate a drone from miles away allows the user to get a hacking computer close enough to the facility to be able to breach the network. What this means is that once the network has been breached, the hacking drone can then connect to every device directly or indirectly connected to that network. If this is your home network, this means all of your sensitive and especially financial information is up for grabs, keystroke by keystroke.
Drones For Physical Tasks