UAVs had already grown in popularity at an unprecedented rate in recent years, largely owing to the development of multirotor UAVs. Multi-rotor UAS have the advantages of being easy to control, hovering anywhere, being low cost, and being remotely controllable from the ground to take pictures, spray, throw, eavesdrop, toss, and hang, allowing them to enter the civilian and military markets on a large scale. Because the rapid development of UAV technology has greatly lowered the threshold for their use, an increasing number of security threats have arisen.
The Major Threat Posed by Commercial UAVs
Harm to Humans and Animal
According to experts from the Civil Aviation Authority, “the rotor speed of drones is very fast and can reach more than 150 revolutions per second, which may invite injury if the rotor is not handled properly, on the other hand, if a drone has an accident during high-altitude flight, superimposed on its own self-weight and rotor speed, it can cause very serious safety injuries to the public.”
A three-year-old boy in London was playing in the square when a drone flew out of control and scratched his face, requiring five stitches.
Voyeurism or Steal Information
The privacy risks posed by drones are self-evident.
When an attacker equips a drone with a small computer (such as a Raspberry Pi, a credit card-sized microcomputer), it can be transformed into a “hacker drone” that can easily “go” to places it normally would not – such as a high-rise conference room, or a building deep in a “secure” campus, and then exploit Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or RFID (radio frequency identification) vulnerabilities to eavesdrop. Because existing security measures assume that no one can pose a threat close enough to these devices, they may not have stringent safeguards.
As drones become more widely used for commercial purposes, an increasing number of organizations are considering incorporating them into existing networks and systems. However, security experts warn that low-cost, easy-to-use UAS are increasingly being used in cyber attacks, where UAS can circumvent traditional physical restrictions for surveillance, penetrate corporate networks to steal secrets, and even cause network outages. The risk of UAS cybersecurity must now be considered by enterprises.
Deliver Contraband into Prisons
Drones pose three main threats to prison security: first, lawless elements use drones to deliver prohibited items, such as cigarettes and drugs, and similar cases have occurred in several U.S. states; second, someone will use drones to take pictures of private areas of prisons and staff, posing a significant security risk; and third, drones are utilized to convey explosives and dangerous chemicals, which will trigger mass prisoner mobs and setbacks.
Threats to Critical Infrastructure
Drones are also being used by attackers to target important such infrastructure as oil depots, nuclear power plants, power grids, railroad lines, port terminals, cell phone signal stations, particularly energy infrastructure, which is becoming increasingly dangerous.
Drones attacked Saudi Aramco’s “world’s largest oil processing facility” and an oil field on September 14, 2019, causing fires that threatened up to half of the world’s largest oil exporter’s supply. Saudi Arabia’s pricey and powerful air defense systems, which include Patriot missiles developed in the United States, were unable to prevent the assaults.
Drone Interrupts Games or Events
Drone trespasses at sporting events are common. An unauthorized drone hovering over the field of an MLB game between the Twins and the Pirates caused a delay. For safety reasons, the officiating crew immediately halted play and directed all personnel to the players’ rest area. Both teams’ players had to wait quietly for the game to resume.
Assassinate, Track, Destroy
In general, the technical barrier to creating bomb-carrying tiny quadcopter and hexacopter drones is low. Non-state actors find the concept particularly appealing because of this. A group hostile to Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro attempted to murder him during a public protest in 2018 with a multi-rotor drone system purchased on an e-commerce platform. Terrorists carried the concept to the battlefield in Iraq a few years ago. Mexican criminals are already employing them to transport drugs and conduct surveillance over walls and other barriers. Since 2017, there have been more sporadic reports of other gangs using small drones carrying explosives to carry out bombings. Japanese authorities warned back in 2015 that Japanese gangs were trying to use drones for assassinations.
Threat to Government Aircraft and Military Security
Now the drones can be mounted aerial camera, a few thousand dollars worth of ordinary civilian drones are equipped with anti-shake gimbal and high-resolution high-definition camera, in the unnoticed hundreds of meters high altitude can also shoot clear pictures of ground personnel, vehicles, so that government agencies and important military sites internal structure and facilities are not any secrecy, such as the addition of remote high-sensitivity directional pickup microphone system can achieve remote eavesdropping.
Disrupt Flights at Airports
In recent years, there have been numerous incidents of black flight of drones, posing frequent challenges to the safety of major air routes in various countries. Drones can not only disrupt normal flight operations, but they can also damage passenger aircraft and endanger the lives of passengers and crew members.
Drug Trade or Smuggling
Carrying goods and even drugs across national borders for trafficking via remotely operated drones can greatly threaten border order and stability, as well as disrupt domestic economic order while endangering people’s lives.
Drones can be used for good, but the significant threats to governments, corporations and the public posed by commercial drone technology can’t be ignored.
It’s hard to predict what will happen with drone threats, but if we invest a bit of time and money, safety, security and privacy are a heck of a lot more likely.