Due to the rapidly progressing technology of drone operations there have been gaps left open that leave some drones vulnerable to being hacked.
Essentially drones use software systems just like a personal computer or smart phone. However, drones don’t have the same protections that your smart phone has to keep unwelcomed guest from getting into your device.
Some of the ways that drones can be hacked are quite similar to the ways your home PC might be hacked. Malware is a term used to describe intrusive software that is designed to get into your electronic devices be it your pc, phone or your new drone.
Once the malware gets in it can corrupt the running program, take over operation of the drone or steal files such as images you may have taken with your drone. Another way is to trick the Drone by creating a fake GPS signal which confuses it and lets the hacker take control sometimes from many miles away.
In 2016 a team of students participated in a project with the aim of hacking into a popular model of drone. Not only did they succeed, but in fact they found at least three different methods to successfully hack into and control the device to force it to land. In addition they also found other vulnerabilities that allowed them to upload or download files from the drone while it was in flight. The good news is that they shared this information with the makers of the drone tested so hopefully some safeguards will be developed and put in place to make hacking more difficult in the future.
Another incident involved Nills Rodday who worked out how to hack into professional grade drones due to a lack of encryption on the on-board circuitry. In this instance the drone did have a radio encryption feature but it had been switched off, allowing Rodday to be able to send messages to the drone effectively taking over command of the vehicle.