What We Need to Know Now: Drones and Security

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Malware Developed to Specifically Target Drones

Malware is definitely a consideration for sUAS as they become more involved in commercial enterprises, and as they become more ubiquitous in performing missions in support of agriculture, infrastructure and environmental monitoring and first response, Lusk pointed out, adding that military mission-capable, large "drones" have already been hacked.

A piece of malware known as Maldrone is believed to be the first backdoor malware developed specifically for sUAS devices. On the military side of things, there was at least one incident of a keylogger malware infecting a drone fleet at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada, which supposedly happened due to an operator using the control PC of a drone to play a video game.

Drones are expected to have a huge effect on industries across the board in the coming decade. So much so that business owners like Chuck Williams, owner of Float Avionics, believe that drones able to move autonomously as well as digitize and send that information to the relevant people will be as important to businesses as the spreadsheet has been. Drones, Williams added, are the physical extension of an increasingly digital world.

Usually when one thinks of drones and security, the first thought is the dangers to airplanes or privacy violations. But because drones are basically flying computers, the potential for security-related flaws and vulnerabilities is there. In fact, at least one strain of malware has been found to directly affect drones; it can allow attackers to remotely control the device.

Drone security is complicated, however, because it encompasses so many different types of security threats. This is creating challenges for programmers, lawmakers and the general public, who need to address drone security without lessening the positive aspects of the devices.


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