Researcher demonstrates ease of hacking into a police drone

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Apparently even pricey police drones might not hold up against a simple hack. According to Wired, Nils Rodday, a security researcher at IBM, gave a demonstration at the RSA security conference during which he hijacked an expensive police drone.

Rodday used a $30,000 to $35,000 drone for the demonstration, according to Wired. He showed how the radio connection could be used to gain full control over the quadrocopter, using only a laptop and a $40 radio chip connected through a USB. Even more, a hacker could pull of the attack from more than a mile away, Wired reported.


Slide from Rodday's presentation | Source: Engadget

Once hackers are in control, they are in complete control.

"You can inject packets and alter waypoints, change data on the flight computer, set a different coming home position," Rodday reportedly said. He said that the attacker could do anything that the original operator could do. 

An article at Engadget explained that Rodday published a thesis that looked at a $21,000 surveillance drone used by Dutch cops. Rodday believes many more expensive drones could share this flaw.

These kinds of issues won't instill confidence in businesses like Amazon and others hoping to use drones in various ways. Businesses can't afford to allow an attacker to commandeer their drone, stealing packages or derailing video transmissions. 

It's early days for drones though so the demonstration at RSA may serve as a wake up call to drone manufacturers that they'll need to get more serious about protecting communications to drones. 

For more:
- read the Wired article
- read the Engadget article

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