What We Need to Know Now: Drones and Security

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Why Malware Targeting Drones Matters

Drones are controlled by a remote control computer with differing levels of human input, explained Williams. Some drones can fly autonomously on a programmed route, some can "see" obstructions in front of them and avoid them (though that technology is still lacking). Remote controls on various frequencies send different signals back and forth to the drone (controls; video signals; information like speed, altitude or range). Malware can disrupt any or all of these control signals.

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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