Where do drones fit in with security?

When It Comes to Securing a Drone, Think of It As a Flying Device

It is estimated that a million drones enter the world's airspace each month. In addition to serving a variety of military applications, these unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are also used to capture images in dangerous locations, including forest fires and areas around nuclear disaster sites. And, of course, they're also available commercially for those of us who are still interested in flying really cool remote controlled planes.

However, drones can be put to other, sometimes illegal uses as well. They have been used to smuggle drugs and weapons into prisons and as tools in corporate espionage. In some cases, drones have been landed on top of data centers with the purpose of gathering and transmitting sensitive data. 

While these cases highlight how drones can be used expressly by groups or individuals to do bad things, an insecure drone can also be manipulated by others with the intent to access a system or network. Drone-based hacking is on the rise. As we're starting to see just how easy it can be to gain access.

The Importance of Properly Securing Drones

Last October, the US Government demonstrated how quickly they could hack a drone that isn't properly secured. In particular, researchers were able to connect to a drone's camera feeds from any computer because its Wi-Fi access point was not password protected. Once someone gains access to a drone's camera feed, they could potentially access the system or network that operates the drone. 

Like any device connected to the Internet of things (IoT), a drone that is not properly secured can be susceptible to criminal activity and has the potential to expose an entire network to cyber-criminals. So, when we are thinking about drones, how can we protect ourselves?

Despite their ability to fly, drones are not very different from video cameras when it comes to securing them. First, for anyone purchasing a drone, you should pay careful attention to whether or not it offers encrypted communication. This will help safeguard the communication between the drone and the ground station that communicates commands. Then, once you have a drone, the next step is to reset the default password. 

These steps apply to drones used by organizations as well as individuals. For more information on securing devices connected to the IoT, check out our cybersecurity Response Center.  


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