What are Drone Threats and How do You Protect Against Them?
Drones are now a common sight in our skies. The consumer market has exploded in the past five years, with the number of hobbyist drones in the USA predicted by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to rise to as high as 4.5 million by 2021.
Rising competition between manufacturers has also largely increased the capabilities of these drones, and even dramatically reduced the costs of buying a drone for consumers. Great for hobbyists! But unfortunately, there are also darker consequences of these recent advancements as Drones are emerging as a cheap, effective way to deliver a variety of physical and cybersecurity threats.
WHAT ARE THE THREATS?
It might seem extreme, but the use of drones for terrorist acts is a stark reality, one which is proved by their battlefield uses by the Islamic State. In Iraq and Syria, the Islamic State has been using off-the-shelf drones for surveillance for over two years, and even developing them as weapons over the past year by rigging the drone with grenades and other small explosives. This tactic has seen an increase of successful attacks. This type of use is unfortunately predicted to grow as the payload capacity for drones increase. Currently, most battery-powered hobbyist drones can only lift about 5 lbs. However, a new gas-to-electric hybrid drone can carry over 30 lbs for 1 hour.
A Smugglers Dream
Many industries are exploring the use of drones as a new channel for the transport and distribution of goods to result in faster and cheaper deliveries, however with this there has been an increase in this technology being used to smuggle illegal items. For examples prisons across the world are having to adapt to the threat of drones being used to sneak drugs, mobile phones, weapons and other contraband over the fences, items that have previously been difficult to get past security.
Digital hacking is an increasing occurrence for modern day life, but drones are helping hackers to gain access to even more details than ever before. Drones can easily and covertly reach areas that seem hard to reach and/or well-protected. The “hacker drone” scenario may seem like science fiction, but capturing data and surveillance are well within a drone’s remit, it has even been reported that finance companies are becoming increasingly concerned with drones, suggesting they could be used to collect valuable data and even collect bank details from cash machine users.
Surveillance and Spying
Many off the shelf drones come readily equipped with top-spec cameras, capable of gathering intelligence on your whereabouts and capturing untoward images which could be used for blackmail or sold to the press.
Besides intentional threats, the rapid growth of hobbyist and commercial drones is increasing the risk of accidents. There are currently little in the way of being able to police the skies, and hobbyist pilots have to undertake no training before they are let loose on the controllers. Because of this the number of drone related incidents are on the rise, with several high-profile drone crashes resulting in injuries to individuals at the scene. Drone collisions with utility infrastructure are also making headlines. In June, 1,600 PG&E customers in Mountain View, California lost power after a drone crashed into a high-voltage wire.
HOW TO PROTECT AGAINST DRONE THREATS
But how can you protect yourself and your assets from these diverse threats? Well your first line of defence actually lies in drone detection. You’re powerless to see or hear a drone before it is right on top of you, and if you are inside you have no hope at all. However, there are advancing technologies in anti-drone systems which offer the ability to detect an emerging drone and alert you to its presence. Some of these systems, such as M.A.D.S the Martek Anti-Drone System are even able to defeat the drone by allowing you to force it to return to its pilot.