EXCLUSIVE: Drones vulnerable to terrorist hijacking, researchers say

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posted on Jun, 26 2012 @ 12:14 AM
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A small surveillance drone flies over an Austin stadium, diligently following a series of GPS waypoints that have been programmed into its flight computer. By all appearances, the mission is routine.

Suddenly, the drone veers dramatically off course, careering eastward from its intended flight path. A few moments later, it is clear something is seriously wrong as the drone makes a hard right turn, streaking toward the south. Then, as if some phantom has given the drone a self-destruct order, it hurtles toward the ground. Just a few feet from certain catastrophe, a safety pilot with a radio control saves the drone from crashing into the field.

From the sidelines, there are smiles all around over this near-disaster. Professor Todd Humphreys and his team at the University of Texas at Austin's Radionavigation Laboratory have just completed a successful experiment: illuminating a gaping hole in the government’s plan to open US airspace to thousands of drones.

They could be turned into weapons.

“Spoofing a GPS receiver on a UAV is just another way of hijacking a plane,” Humphreys told Fox News.

In other words, with the right equipment, anyone can take control of a GPS-guided drone and make it do anything they want it to.




Read more: www.foxnews.com...

The news just gets better and better with these drones....

One day it's killing terrorists, then it's killing civilians, then it's killing civilians that Obama deems terrorists as soon as they walk outside a boarder, then they're flying the boarders, and now they're over our homes.... and now they can easily be brought down and hijacked by terrorists...




“Spoofing” is a relatively new concern in the world of GPS navigation. Until now, the main problem has been GPS jammers, readily available over the Internet, which people use to, for example, hide illicit use of a GPS-tracked company van. It’s also believed Iran brought down that U.S. spy drone last December by jamming its GPS, forcing it into an automatic landing mode after it lost its bearings.



So it's as simple as purchasing something over the internet?





In February, under pressure from the Pentagon and drone manufacturers, Congress ordered the FAA to come up with rules to allow government and commercial use of UAVs over American soil by 2015. The plan could eventually see police drones keeping watch over U.S. cities, UAVs monitoring transmission lines for power companies, or cargo plane-size drones guided by GPS pilotlessly delivering packages across the country. FedEx founder Fred Smith has said he would like to add unmanned drones to his fleet as soon as possible.

The new rules have raised privacy concerns about a "surveillance society," with UAVs tirelessly watching our every move 24/7. But Humphreys’ experiments have put an entirely new twist on the anxiety over drones.

“What if you could take down one of these drones delivering FedEx packages and use that as your missile? That’s the same mentality the 9-11 attackers had,” Humphreys told Fox News.

It’s something the government is acutely aware of. Last Tuesday, in the barren desert of the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, officials from the FAA and Department of Homeland Security watched as Humphrey’s team repeatedly took control of a drone from a remote hilltop. The results were every bit as dramatic as the test at the UT stadium a few days earlier.



On a side note... less than one week ago a friend and I came up with the idea of using drones and replacing UPS and FedEx lol. Looks like we were too late, and we thought we 'had it all figured out'!

I wonder if Alex Jones is going to start pimping UAV jammers... he could make a fortune!




posted on Jun, 26 2012 @ 12:22 AM
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The one serious flaw I see in the test is that the GPS signal used to guide/navigate a drone is heavily encrypted. The same goes for the telemetry used to manually control them...



posted on Jun, 26 2012 @ 12:34 AM
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Originally posted by mileysubet
The one serious flaw I see in the test is that the GPS signal used to guide/navigate a drone is heavily encrypted. The same goes for the telemetry used to manually control them...





Unlike military UAVs, which use an encrypted GPS system, most drones that will fly over the U.S. will rely on civilian GPS, which is not encrypted and wide open to infiltration. Humphreys warns it is crucial that the government address this vulnerability before it allows unmanned aerial vehicles broad access to U.S. airspace.





So much for being heavily encrypted...



posted on Jun, 26 2012 @ 12:35 AM
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It's fairly easy to put encryption on the links going to and from the UAV, that would make it impossible, or at least extremely difficult for anyone to take over the aircraft. Military UAVs already use encryption for their links, and it wouldn't be difficult to take that same encryption and add it to a UAV owned by a civilian agency.



posted on Jun, 26 2012 @ 12:49 AM
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Originally posted by Zaphod58
It's fairly easy to put encryption on the links going to and from the UAV, that would make it impossible, or at least extremely difficult for anyone to take over the aircraft. Military UAVs already use encryption for their links, and it wouldn't be difficult to take that same encryption and add it to a UAV owned by a civilian agency.


The popularity of these drones will only increase, and they will find many different applications. Due to the commercial or private market attraction that these things will be getting for all sorts of uses it will be difficult to insure that they are all equipped with proper encryption. As well, it's not like the government is going to go around handing out their specific encryption technologies for commercial uses.

Not saying it's all doom and gloom or what not... but it would appear that there are many hurdles for these initiatives to jump before they are considered safe and protected.

I hope to see the day when a drone brings me my mail, brings me home some food from the local pizza place, or is getting me great views of a baseball game...



posted on Jun, 26 2012 @ 12:57 AM
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reply to post by FractalChaos13242017
 


There are plenty of commercially available encryption programs that can be used on a UAV. You don't need to have government encryption to make a UAV safe.

UAVs WILL be regulated by the FAA and other organizations. Random inspections, and other procedures can be put in place to ensure that the links are encrypted.



posted on Jun, 26 2012 @ 01:07 AM
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Originally posted by Zaphod58
reply to post by FractalChaos13242017
 


There are plenty of commercially available encryption programs that can be used on a UAV. You don't need to have government encryption to make a UAV safe.

UAVs WILL be regulated by the FAA and other organizations. Random inspections, and other procedures can be put in place to ensure that the links are encrypted.



Do you have any links or references to such encryption programs that are available? The only ones that I can find are linked with military.

Here's something that you may find interesting

www.ausairpower.net...
It's old, but interesting none the less...

I'm not claiming that it's difficult for companies in the future to get their hands on such technologies... I just hope that the FAA forces companies to operate their UAVs under secure and protected means.

I'd hate to see some group of people go online and simply purchase a device that may take down one of these things and fly it into a building or worse.



posted on Jun, 26 2012 @ 01:11 AM
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This smells like the classic false flag op.
s&f



posted on Jun, 26 2012 @ 01:11 AM
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The only way to prevent this is to give the drones a mind of their own.

This is why darpa is so interested in AI. Although i doubt they see as far into the future as i do.



posted on Jun, 26 2012 @ 01:19 AM
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Originally posted by Wertdagf
The only way to prevent this is to give the drones a mind of their own.

This is why darpa is so interested in AI. Although i doubt they see as far into the future as i do.


I think AI is a great idea of surveillance only, but if there's any form of weaponry on a AUV... no way in hell!

That's the last thing we need is some computer scripted behavioral pattern recognition software being used to kill people!



posted on Jun, 26 2012 @ 01:22 AM
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The GPS Modernization talked about by Spirenet will include commercial encryption. The Galileo GPS system being launched by the ESA will have a couple of commercial encryptions included.

www.spirent.com...
www.esa.int...



posted on Jun, 26 2012 @ 01:37 AM
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Originally posted by Zaphod58
The GPS Modernization talked about by Spirenet will include commercial encryption. The Galileo GPS system being launched by the ESA will have a couple of commercial encryptions included.

www.spirent.com...
www.esa.int...


I'm reading a bunch of 'could be's' , 'should be's' and 'will be's'... regardless, no company should be allowed to fly these things with out first purchasing some form of encrypting hardware/software's. If they stand to make a profit, and want to 'remove the pilot' from the cockpit... there absolutely has to be strict regulation over any of these vehicles in the air.

It's laughable to think that the FAA would allow for a drone to fly with out such protection... in this day and age, crazy...



posted on Jun, 26 2012 @ 03:01 AM
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Originally posted by Zaphod58
It's fairly easy to put encryption on the links going to and from the UAV, that would make it impossible, or at least extremely difficult for anyone to take over the aircraft. Military UAVs already use encryption for their links, and it wouldn't be difficult to take that same encryption and add it to a UAV owned by a civilian agency.


The drone isn't being controlled from the ground - it is flying a pre-programmed course according to GPS co-ordinates - the course is in its memory.

The spoofing, as I understand it, is sending it false GPS data - I guess if your transmitter nearby is stronger than those from the satellites it will overpower their signals.



posted on Jun, 26 2012 @ 11:06 AM
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Everything remotely controlled via EM waves is potentially hijackable as one catches the right freq band or decode the transmission ... Theoretically even a drone governed by AI might be misled by disturbing its localization system. But I don't know the technical details so as to provide a reliable comment. Since the dawn of times for almost every problem a solution or a way to work around has been found, so probably the safest way of preventing interference or decoding is simply changing or improving the technology as quickly as possible ...



posted on Jun, 26 2012 @ 11:15 AM
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How easy could they be used for a false flag?

Each community should be allowed to control there own drone...as tax payers we should be given the ability to control them in our own community. Also we should be able to hold those in charge responsible for the actions of the drones. Whether the drones actions were intentional or not...
edit on 26-6-2012 by relocator because: (no reason given)



posted on Jun, 26 2012 @ 01:02 PM
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The majority of the UAVs that we're going to see in use are going to be the smaller hand launched UAVs that are in the 6-10 pound range. They won't be able to be used well for a false flag operation, as the only really significant damage they could cause would be a large open crowd.



posted on Jun, 26 2012 @ 01:32 PM
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reply to post by Zaphod58
 


Quote "the only really significant damage they could cause would be a large open crowd."

So thats OK then, Hehe,

Guess there is a word missing, or maybe not.



posted on Jun, 26 2012 @ 03:57 PM
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reply to post by dowot
 


Everyone talks about slamming them into a building, or something like that. Even in a large crowd, a 6 pound UAV is NOT going to do massive damage. You might see 10-15 people killed, but the only truly significant effect will be the aftermath of it happening. The injuries, and the fear.



posted on Jun, 26 2012 @ 09:25 PM
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Originally posted by Zaphod58
reply to post by dowot
 


Everyone talks about slamming them into a building, or something like that. Even in a large crowd, a 6 pound UAV is NOT going to do massive damage. You might see 10-15 people killed, but the only truly significant effect will be the aftermath of it happening. The injuries, and the fear.


Ok... well, lets consider this idea...

You take control of 10 of these, weighing 20 lbs each... direct them to one target, dive bombing at around 50-100 mph. I'd say that there is real potential for some damage to be done, especially if flown into a crowd of people. There might not currently be 10 of these things flying around at a given time in a specific region, in which can be hijacked... but the future, well it's just that... who knows. There probably will be a time in which the city skies will be littered with these things. Just think of FedEx of UPS was to start using these things...

As well... it's not even about these things being used to fly into buildings or people, it's what can happen if hijacked, landed, quickly rigged with some bio-warfare weapons and crashed into a public place.

Ok... I'm done theorizing before I get detained indefinitely... I'm just saying, the dangers with these things are not to be over looked, and written off as pure fantasy. There are very real individuals in this world that could give a # less about others, and for many reasons would love to get their hands on these things and do some damage with them. If it is as easy as purchasing something online... I wouldn't be surprised at all to hear about them being used for said individuals means.

I would suspect that companies are willing to pay for the encryption hardware/software though... like any intelligent company, they want to best protect their investments. Knowing about these hazards, it would seem likely that means will be adopted to prevent such hijackings from taking place. This is one place where I'd like to see some heavy regulation by the government...

I say screw it... equip them all with kill switches... once they deviate off course, the engine cuts out, a tiny parachute pops out... and the company can go find it. It's not as if they don't have tracking devices on them.



posted on Jun, 29 2012 @ 12:31 PM
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Originally posted by FractalChaos13242017

Originally posted by Wertdagf
The only way to prevent this is to give the drones a mind of their own.

This is why darpa is so interested in AI. Although i doubt they see as far into the future as i do.


I think AI is a great idea of surveillance only, but if there's any form of weaponry on a AUV... no way in hell!

That's the last thing we need is some computer scripted behavioral pattern recognition software being used to kill people!


I thoroughly agree with you. It's an aspect we should seriously think about. Remember the movie Matrix??





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