The Federal government has taken steps to make sure that our skies are filled with possible terrorist missiles. In fact, this year the FAA Reauthorization Act was signed with the thought of developing regulations in regards to drone flight in American skies. The FAA claims that they are expecting to have 30,000 drones in American airspace by 2020. The Department of Homeland Security is happy about this and like the naked body scanners that they claim are both safe and vital in securing the flying American public, they also were over confident about the security of the unmanned drones. That is until their bluff was called by a Texas college.
A group of researchers led by Professor Todd Humphreys from the University of Texas at Austin Radionavigation Laboratory recently succeeded in raising the eyebrows of the US government. With just around $1,000 in parts, Humphreys’ team took control of an unmanned aerial vehicle owned by the college, all in front of the US Department of Homeland Security.
After being challenged by his lab, the DHS dared Humphreys’ crew to hack into a drone and take command. Much to their chagrin, they did exactly that.
Humphrey tells Fox News that for a few hundreds dollar his team was able to “spoof” the GPS system on board the drone, a technique that involves mimicking the actual signals sent to the global positioning device and then eventually tricking the target into following a new set of commands. And, for just $1,000, Humphreys says the spoofer his team assembled was the most advanced one ever built.
“Spoofing a GPS receiver on a UAV is just another way of hijacking a plane,” Humphrey’s said. “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.”
The drone that was hacked was not a government drone, but rather a UAV owned by the university. However, the drones that will be in the air will not just be military drones but also commercial ones as well.
While the drone overtaken by the College for a mere $1000, but Humphreys theorized, “What if you could take down one of these drones delivering FedEx packages and use that as your missile?” Humphreys asks. “That’s the same mentality the 9-11 attackers had.”
Yes, I feel safer already, don’t you?