Rise of the Drones: Are UAV’s the ‘Threat to Watch’ in 2017?

If you’re anything like me, over the last few weeks you’ve been devouring some of the “Predictions for the Year” style posts that inevitably appear around this time...

If you’re anything like me, over the last few weeks you’ve been devouring some of the “Predictions for the Year” style posts that inevitably appear around this time annually.

Some of the insights from these reports are a continuation of current security issues; ransomware will still be a pain, mobiles will continue to be targeted, and alike.

But one prediction that has caught my eye in a few places is the increased threat of ‘dronejacking’ in 2017. The concept of ‘dronejacking’ itself isn’t new of course. In fact, Kaspersky Lab were discussing it on their Threatpost site as far back as 2013.

Drones in 2017

So what’s changed? Well, the main difference today is that drones are a far bigger part of mainstream society. The attraction for cybercriminals was low when drones were the exclusive hobby of a few early adopters steering them around the local park.

Now being used for activities such as law enforcement surveillance and commercial inspections of oil and gas sites, the benefits to commandeering a drone start to get a little more interesting.

EasyJet currently uses drones to carry out safety inspections on its aircraft. What could be the repercussions of gaining control of a device responsible for conducting such a task?

Delivery by Drones

And of course, Amazon are promising to take the commercial use of drones to the next level with their Amazon Prime Air service. This promises to deliver packages weighing up to five pounds to customers within 30 minutes.

Amazon’s demonstration video shows the service delivering its own-brand electronics goods, such as Fire TV and Echo Dot, the voice-controlled helper. With the Fire TV product currently retailing at £79.99, it’s not difficult to draw the conclusion that cybercriminals will be watching this unfold with interest.

UPS, Royal Mail, Walmart and DHL are among the other names said to be testing the feasibility of using drones for deliveries. So there’s likely to be a lucrative criminal enterprise in taking these things out of the sky and relieving them of their cargo.

Making Drones More Secure

At the moment the majority of security improvements are in the hands of the drone manufacturers. The implementation of encryption on the Command and Control link, for example, could protect against a ‘dronejacking’.

But as we’ve seen in the Internet of Things (IoT) market, security concerns often take a backseat to glitzy product features designed to capture an early audience ahead of the competition. There could be a size, weight and power price to pay to incorporate additional security features.

Of course, the high-level commercial drones that many industries will use are going to be inherently more secure than budget counterparts aimed at hobbyists. But no device is 100% secure, and it’s a topic that’s likely to roll on. The best thing that users can do currently is to be wary of who has physical access to drones in operation.

Andy Allaway is a freelance writer and blogger, specialising in ghostwriting blog posts for IT service providers. More information on his products and services can be found here.

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2 comments

  1. Ian Kiely Reply

    Hi Andy
    I run the Drone & Tech Expo in Dublin Ireland, I also work with government agencies and private companies. This was not a bad article, most people dont know what they are on about who write about these things.

    Ian

    1. Andy Allaway Reply

      Thanks Ian, glad you enjoyed it!

      Andy