The Advent of Drones & the threats they bring

Drone Phantom 4 by DJI

Not long ago, drones were considered to be a special device allowing photographers and filmmakers to capture unique and mesmerizing perspectives. With recent advancements in drone technology, however, the perspective that was once considered to be unique is now common and is seen regularly on virtually all media outlets. Whether it be a TV commercial, live stream, or still photograph on Facebook taken by a family member, the drone-perspective is now a common occurrence that can be achieved by almost anyone. This is due to improvements technology, and affordability, and with this it is only a matter of time before these new technologies are leveraged by nefarious groups and individuals. 

Speaking to the above point, the aptly named Blackhat security conference is held every year to discuss such threats and outlooks on the future. This year Yokogawa security expert Jeff Melrose was invited to speak at the even which took place in Las Vegas on July 31 - Aug2. Jeff spoke on the topic of drones and the threat that they pose to us in the area of cyber-security, now and in the future. He explained that a drone with an effective range of up to 3 miles can be purchased online right now, and at anytime (such as the Phantom 4 pictured above). A common off-the-shelf drone such as this can be used for cyber crimes in several ways.

The topic interested many and was well received at Blackhat. Prestigious outlets such as VICE media channel MOTHERBOARD, and BBC World News picked up the story almost immediately. Technology Reporter Dan Simmons of BBC spoke to Jeff after the event and put together a James Bond parody video on the drone topic. In the video Jeff speaks about how drones can be used in a cyber-attacks as a relay point on stationary and moving targets, both large and small (e.g. industrial sites, cargo ships, and motor vehicles). 

Fast forward the youtube clip to the start Jeff's segment at 4min 50sec. This will give a better perspective as to how a drone can be used to 'take out' specific targets with a cone of silence, and why it might be time for people involved in securing critical infrastructure to move physical security infrastructures to the 21st century.

Read other insights on cyber-security from Jeff, here