'Dronejacking' is the newest security threat; hackers see sky as the limit

Cybersecurity experts warn drones could be hacked
Posted at 4:44 PM, Nov 30, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-30 21:28:33-05

DENVER -- Chances are, many of you have seen a drone hovering around your neighborhood at some point. They're becoming more and more popular, but also a lot more vulnerable to hacking.

The next cybersecurity threat could come in the form of "dronejacking," according to experts.

McAfee Labs just put out a report saying drones are easily hackable. With the right equipment, hackers can take control. Security experts predict those tool kits will be on the “dark web” next year.

They're now calling on drone makers to update their software to make the devices more secure.

"I think the worst thing that we could do is overlook the security risks of any new technology," said Jeff Cozart, who teaches drone operations at Metropolitan State University of Denver. “There are technical issues that do create new dangers."

"The drones have a bunch of software. And software is exploitable," said Dr. Steve Beaty, professor of computer science at MSU Denver.

Beaty says drones are an open target for hackers, both small and large scale.

“The country of Iran was able to overwhelm the GPS signals from a U.S. military drone,” Beaty said. “And was able to convince that drone to land at its air base and not the United States' air base."

Beaty warns “dronejacking” can be more dangerous than simple sky theft.

"If you crash it into a crowd, chaos can ensue," he said. “You put it into an intake of a jet - it's not your drone, but you have control of it. People need to keep their software and their drones up to date. Vulnerabilities will be found and they need to be patched on an ongoing basis."


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