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Drone Hacking Test Reveals GPS as Weak Link

ar parrot drone hacking
Drone hacking is a concern as more flying robots spread throughout the civilian world. Here is an AR drone made by the French company Parrot. (Image credit: Parrot)

Drones use GPS to navigate as they fly about their business, but many commercial GPS systems can leave the flying robots open to hacking. Researchers used about $1,000 worth of equipment to show how they could take away control of a test drone from its original handlers in a recent test.

The possibility of hacked drones naturally worries the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. That's why officials invited researchers from the University of Texas at Austin to run the live hacking demonstration on a drone helicopter at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, according to IEEE Spectrum.

Such GPS "spoofing" can threaten much more than just our flying robot friends — GPS helps automated systems guide aircraft, ships and all those smart cars that could transform into driverless cars in the near future. So perhaps the bigger lesson is to ensure standards for hardening commercial GPS systems against hacking.

But it's not all doom and gloom for drones. The Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) wrote to IEEE Spectrum to explain that the civilian drone industry is already looking into anti-hacking technologies such as those being used by U.S. military drones. The latest example of drone hacking possibilities may serve to speed up the process of hardening civilian drones.

Source: IEEE Spectrum

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