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Drones pose cyber-security and privacy threats, says report

Without new safeguards, the growing use of drones in populated areas brings significant risks that could result in attacks by "malicious entities"

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Drones are recognised threat to critical infrastructure, operations and individuals
Drones are recognised threat to critical infrastructure, operations and individuals

An open-skies policy that allow drones to fly over populated areas pose significant risks in terms of security and privacy within society, a new study warns. And without additional safeguards, could result in attacks by malicious entities and be exploited for use in cyber-attacks, terrorism, crime and invasion of privacy

 

The research report, Security and Privacy Challenges in the Age of Drones, from Ben-Gurion University (BGU) and Fujitsu System Integration Laboratories, evaluates 200 academic and industry techniques designed to detect and disable drones flying in both unrestricted and restricted areas.

 

US government proposal

 

Its findings coincide with the US government proposal to allow civilian drone flights with new security rules that permit deliveries and other commercial uses in populated areas.

 

“The cutting-edge technology and decreasing drone prices made them accessible to individuals and organisations but has created new threats and recently caused an increase in drone-related incidents,” said Ben Nassi, a PhD student in BGU’s Department of Software and Information Systems Engineering and a researcher at the BGU Cyber Security Research Centre.

 

“There are many difficulties that militaries, police departments, and governments are seeking to overcome, as it is a recognised threat to critical infrastructure, operations, and individuals.”

 

The researchers examined different ways to detect drones in drone-restricted areas including radar, RF scanners, thermal cameras, sound and hybrids of these methods. However, they believe the biggest challenge is determining the drone’s purpose in non-restricted areas.

“There are many difficulties that militaries, police departments, and governments are seeking to overcome, as it is a recognised threat to critical infrastructure, operations, and individuals”

“In an unrestricted area, we believe that there is a major scientific gap and definite risks that can be exploited by terrorists to launch a cyber-attack,” added Nassi.

 

“It is inevitable that drones will become more widespread, but we need to recognise that open-skies policy pose multiple risks and that current solutions are unable to solve as a result of a major scientific gap in this area.”

 

The researchers propose methods that enable flying drone identification as well as registration which is now a US regulation. This includes dedicated techniques for authenticating drones and their operators. While in their previous study, the researchers demonstrated a new technique to detect a spying drone, new methods to determine the purpose of a nearby drone must be developed.

 

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