How would you like to take a dare from the US Department of Homeland Security and attempt to hijack a fully equipped drone? For a cheap bet of $1,000 in parts, an eager team of researchers from the University of Texas in Austin did just that. With this dare being willingly accepted, the challenge that the DHS proposed was simple. Take control of the unmanned airplane while it was in flight.
Domestic pilotless aircrafts are widely used by the Department of Homeland Security and other government agencies. Flying these man-less aircrafts are much cheaper than a full on airplane with a crew and much safer for pilots and their men when information needs to be collected and the going gets rough.
With Success on their side, this Austin research team nearly effortlessly accomplished the task of “spoofing” the drone GPS system that was on board the aircraft. The strategy that was used to misguide the drone is really, actually pretty neat. It is an approach of simulating similar signals sent to the GPS and then convincing the target into rerouting and then following a new set of demands. Professor Todd Humphreys, the man heading the Austin research team, told Fox News:
“Spoofing a GPS receiver on a UAV is just another way of hijacking a plane. In five or ten years you have 30,000 drones in the airspace, each one of these could be a potential missile used against us.”
Most domestic drones will more than likely be using the exact same unencrypted global positioning device signals that are allowed to all civilians. Who is to say that with a little research and a cheap $1,000, someone will not simply hack and hijack a seemingly harmless FedEx drone and use it as a missile or whatever else suits their fancy? It obviously does not take too much effort to tackle a UAV for personal use.