Security Researcher Demonstrates It's Easy to Hijack Airborne Drones
NEWS ANALYSIS: A noted security researcher says it's easy to hijack a widely-used, but poorly-secured, airborne drone using an autonomous skyjacking drone of his own.Security and privacy researcher Samy Kamkar told eWEEK exactly how easy it is to take over a small drone while it's in flight and then turn the device to your own ends. In effect, he says, it's not only possible to steal a drone, it's easy and cheap, especially when the system was designed without strong security features. He also said that there are things a drone user can do to prevent this from happening. There are also some limitations. Kamkar said that his method of hijacking a drone currently only works with devices made by Parrot, which is one of the most commonly used remotely piloted drones. It also requires a software application, called Skyjack, that was developed in part by Kamkar. The security of drone communications has become an issue since Amazon.com founder and CEO Jeff Bezos revealed on a Dec. 1 broadcast of the CBS news feature show "60 Minutes" that his company is developing airborne drones capable of delivering packages to customers. This has triggered a public debate on whether an express delivery service based on unmanned drones could be operated safely and reliably, especially in urban areas.
Kamkar is a long-time security researcher and developer of security systems. He is founder of Unleak, a start up that is beta testing an enterprise data security product. He was also the co-founder of Fonality and Global Domains. His work with drones is part of his ongoing cyber-security research.