The Growing Threat of Drones

Published 25 - July - 2019
Source: Cyber Security Conference
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Steve Durbin, Managing Director of ISF, recently spoke to SecurityWeek to discuss the threat of drones. “Over the next few years, technological breakthroughs in drone technologies, combined with advances in 5G, big data, the Internet of Things (IoT), and the lessening of aviation regulations, will mean that drones will become increasingly important to operating models. Organizations will depend on them for delivery, monitoring, imagery and law enforcement, whilst attackers will embrace drones as their new weapon of choice. Literally, the threat landscape will take to the skies.”

UK environmental activists known as Extinction Rebellion (ER) are threatening to protest the development of a third runway at London’s Heathrow airport by flying drones right to the edge of the airport’s exclusion zone.

ER cofounder Gail Bradbrook announced 15 July 2019, “They’ve said, ok, there’s this exclusion zone around Heathrow where you can’t fly drones and we’ve gone, oh, that’s interesting because what we’re about is breaking the rules.”

That, in a nutshell, is the drone problem: an explosive (potentially literally) new market with virtually no governance beyond ‘exclusion zone’ rules — a situation that applies as much in the U.S. as it does in the UK. By 2024, the U.S. drone market alone is expected to be worth $150 billion, split between military, commercial and hobbyist use. In the words of Matt Rahman, COO at IOActive, talking to SecurityWeek, “Who owns the drone problem?” And the answer today is, effectively, no-one.

Military drones are not a domestic problem. They are well-controlled, heavily regulated, very secure and not used without planning. “Past attempts to breach a military drone requires the sophistication of a nation-state attacker,” says Rahman.

Commercial and hobby drones are a different matter. They have been described as flying lawnmowers with an IoT heart, directed wirelessly and carrying a payload. And like all new technological developments, they have been rushed to market with little regard for security — either by design or in operation. “There’s a lot of ways you can manipulate the drone by hijacking it or by jamming the signals or by using a Raspberry Pi attached to it to be able to hack into wireless networks,” says Rahman.