Drones can be hacked – here’s how to avoid it

Drones are becoming more and more popular. They are used by both individuals and companies. It is not known exactly how many of these are in circulation, and estimates vary widely. While some say 2 million, others say 7 million.

The advantages of flying objects are obvious: they are not too expensive, easy to operate, and can be used for aerial photography of all possible locations. Drones can even be a lifesaver. In Ghana, for example, important medicines are delivered to hard-to-reach regions.

This all sounds very positive at first, but unfortunately, drones can also pose a security threat. But what dangers can this cause? And how can you avoid them?

These dangers can come from drones

There are enough people who are not thrilled when a drone flies over their garden and photographs it. This is the least of them. For example, like many other devices, drones can be hacked. It is especially practical for hackers that they themselves do not even need a drone, but they can simply abuse other people’s drones to their advantage.

These small flying objects are still relatively new to the market today. What might happen when hackers scrutinize this and find even more ways to exploit them for their own purposes is anyone’s guess at the moment.

Different ways to hack a drone

There are many ways to hack drones. This usually does not even pose a particular technical problem, since the devices are not sufficiently protected. If a hacker can locate the drone, he can either fly it himself or intercept signals and images by hacking the downlink to the base station.

Using GPS spoofing, hackers can, for example, send the drone the wrong coordinates and direct it to a different location. Thus, he can send them to a certain place, and then receive them at his disposal. However, hackers often target only the memory stick and data.

By the way, you can still hack a drone from a distance of more than one and a half kilometers. Radio signals are often not encrypted at all and can be easily decoded using packet analysis software. However, sometimes it is enough to simply disrupt the radio signal.

One experiment even managed to take control of a swarm of drones and control them. This resembles botnets, which can then be used, for example, for DDoS attacks.

How to protect your drone from hackers

The first step towards greater safety has already been taken when you realize that the drone can pose risks. Fortunately, there are several ways to protect them.

  • Using a VPN connection

VPN is a virtual private network that is recommended for all network operations. The VPN connection creates a secure and encrypted data tunnel that ensures that no outsiders can intercept anything. This gives you a high level of security and anonymity.

  • Regular updates

Regular updates are also very important for drone firmware. Security holes are found over and over in versions. The manufacturers then have to fix this and release updates. You must download and install these updates as soon as possible to avoid being targeted by cybercriminals.

  • Also protect connected devices

Often tablets or smartphones are used as controllers for a drone. In this case, you must remember that all devices connected to your drone must also be protected. With good antivirus software, you can prevent malware infection as much as possible. It’s also important to only get downloads from safe sources.

  • Restrict device access to base station

You can usually determine how many devices can be connected to the base station.You should also use this feature, because in this way you can prevent hackers from intercepting the signal and thereby controlling other devices.

  • Activate Return to Home Mode

This mode can be very helpful. The drone will then return to the specified point if the drone signal is interrupted or if the battery is almost empty. So it’s not that easy to hijack a drone. However, with GPS spoofing, the hackers could still succeed and redirect the drone to a different location.