College Researchers Hack Surveillance Drone
June 28, 2012 Leave a Comment
The U.S. Department of Homeland security recently “dared” researchers at the Austin Radio Navigation Laboratory at the University of Texas to take control of one of their drones. They succeeded, causing the drone to make a crash landing dive.
Homeland Security officials originally thought their drones were “hack proof”, but these researchers completely discredited them. The device was only worth a mere $1,000, but this hacking incident shows how one of these drones could easily be turned into a weapon to be used against its own people.
Professor Todd Humphreys and his team at the Texas Radionavigation Lab successfully diverted a drone flying over Austin stadium by diverting the GPS coordinates to force the drone to careen from its programmed path and make a kamikaze dive. The team chose to abort the self-destruct course just a few feet from the ground but were still able to prove their point. The researchers were able to “spoof” the drone’s GPS system and trick it into following a new set of commands.
In five or ten years, we are going to have 30,000 drones in American airspace. These drones are also reported to eventually be armed as well. Having a drone designed by Homeland Security “hacked” isn’t too reassuring, and if these researchers can do it in Texas, I assume others can pull it off too. In the wrong hands, these drones could potentially be very dangerous and hopefully we won’t have these things flying around without the proper security protocols.