Drones and their Potential for Personal Enjoyment — Or Espionage

DronesThere are two faces to drones. The first one is born of consumerist perceptions. To these people, drones are nothing but small, remote-controlled flying machines that can be used for personal enjoyment. Such machines can be used to shoot otherwise impossible-to-take aerial camera shots, or even race. They even resemble R/C planes toys in this regard.

The second one is born of security concerns. All of the conveniences that drones can afford their owners has a caveat: given specific circumstances, they can be used to spy –and espionage is not something the world takes lightly. Just last year, a tiny drone crashed onto the White House lawn, provoking an immediate response from the Secret Service. Also, much has been said about the importance of drone reconnaissance in modern warfare.

It’s the latter face that concerns a good number of people, including companies like Perimeter Systems Pty., Ltd., and rightfully so. But, are their fears justified?

Beware of Hackers Outside the Web

Hackers do not only operate within the confines of the web. If they want to, they can commandeer a drone mid-flight to a certain extent. Hacking a drone requires one to mess with its navigation system, specifically tampering with the GPS frequency it is tuned to.

Todd Humphreys, a professor of aeronautics engineering from the University of Texas, managed to do this. He mimicked the signals sent to a civilian drone’s GPS, eventually managing to “fool” the drone into following his commands. He managed to do this within minutes and with officials from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security watching on.

Espionage For Corporate Or Personal Ends

Ever had the suspicion that someone’s spying on you? With drones, it is certainly possible. Domestic surveillance can be carried out by the government, companies, and individual people. And it’s not only privacy that’s at stake here, but also security. Criminals could very well spy on someone’s home using a drone, and there would be multiple options to commit a crime. It’s scary just thinking about it.

So yes, fears of drone espionage aren’t far-fetched –they’re real. Realise that in the wrong hands, machines like drones can be used to commit heinous deeds.