Drones have conquered the world: they are used to hunt down tax evaders and illegal hunters, help suppress wildfires, find victims after natural disasters… They even serve as flying cameras to assist in filming movies and for aerial photography.
Online retail giant Amazon, for example, is planning on using drones for commercial delivery in order to fly purchases right to customers’ front doors. Despite being originally developed for military purposes, drones are slowly finding their place into our everyday lives. However, just as with every other technology, these unmanned aerial vehicles can pose a serious threat if they fall into the wrong hands.
Among other things, drones can be used as highly effective spies. Their ability to get close to almost any place where confidential data is stored (for example, an office) without being seen, makes them the perfect spy. Not only because of their ability to carry cameras and capture images through windows, but also because they can make the perfect weapon to carry out sophisticated cyber-attacks.
Drones can be used by cyber-criminals to easily get their malicious tools close to their target without having to overcome the physical barriers that the potential victim may have in place (security guards, access control systems, biometric sensors, surveillance cameras, etc.).
A drone could hide, for example, a jammer, a malicious hotspot, a device to launch attacks via Bluetooth or NFC, etc. The number of ways in which these aerial devices can be used to spy on victims and steal confidential information is almost endless.
Such is the risk that there are countries such as Sweden that have ruled that camera drones qualify as surveillance cameras, banning their use unless the drone operator has the necessary permit.
However, a cyber-criminal that wanted to use a drone to carry out an attack would still have another option: to take control of someone else’s device. Unfortunately, many of today’s models have vulnerabilities that could allow a remote attacker to take control of them.
Drone manufacturers have the responsibility to increase the security of their aircrafts to mitigate the security and privacy concerns raised by them. As this technology becomes ever more present in our lives, it is clear that the notion of safety and security in IT systems cannot be limited to computers and smartphones, but should also reach other high-flying devices. In this respect, having the cyber-security protection that best adapts to your needs is absolutely essential.