Drone Hijacking – Is It Actually a Thing?

Friday May 19 2017

Since the technology debuted, drones have seen a steady growth in popularity. As well as being used by large companies and official bodies, drones are also used by individuals who simply want to experience the excitement of flying such a fun and complex device. There are different ways to use a drone, some people do so with their camera to capture impressive aerial images, whilst others use them to enter areas that would otherwise be unreachable. Regardless of how a drone is used, however, they all have one thing in common - they can be hijacked.

Hijacking refers to illegally taking control of a vehicle whilst it is in use, so the term can be used when talking about drones. However, as drones are technological equipment, it can also be referred to as ‘hacking’. The terms are interchangeable, and there are a number of ways drones can be hijack or hacked.

How Can a Drone Be Hijacked?

There are several different ways that a drone can be compromised. If you are a drone user it is important to be aware of these in order to combat any potential threats.

A drone can be hijacked by infiltrating a weak or missing connection in its security. Though drones are designed to respond to commands from a single device, hackers can target weak areas and override this. By doing so, the hacker is able to then command the drone whilst it is in-flight.
Another way to hijack a drone is to send a large amount of data in quick succession. This confuses the drone and causes it to crash as it is unable to handle the capacity of data being sent, leading to an emergency landing.
If a drone is not properly protected by firewalls and passwords then, in theory, hackers are able to upload or download files whilst it is flying which can lead to breaches in data.

Is Your Drone At Risk?

Unless you are working for an important company, collecting confidential information, or have a drone that is carrying a number of important documents then your drone is not likely to be at risk of hijacking. However, this isn’t to say that proper care and attention shouldn’t be taken to ensure your drone is safe and secure at all times. Simple ways to keep a drone secure from hacking include making sure the drone is set up correctly, password protecting the drone and the network it is using, installing security software and making sure it is updated.