Could Terrorist Hackers Hijack Drones over the US?

The news wires were abuzz today over a Homeland Security Subcommittee meeting. Several committee members were alarmed over issues raised concerning drone use in US skies. The government plans to steeply increase the number of active drones in the US by 2015. But it wasn’t necessarily the increase of drones that was the issue. University of Texas Professor Todd Humphreys raised much more serious concerns.

Humphreys testified before the committee that US drones could be controlled and possibly used against American citizens. “I am worried that it could be a weapon in the arsenal of organized crime, or state actors, or organized terrorists,” He explained.

Last month, the Texas professor successfully demonstrated that GPS signals could be spoofed and a drone could be in-effect hijacked and controlled. Though not a big deal now, this could become a potential target for terrorists in the future. “In 5 or 10 years you have 30,000 drones in the airspace, each one of these could be a potential missile used against us”, Humphreys said to Fox News.

Drones may be much larger in the next few years also. There has been several mentions of delivery companies possibly using large drones in the future. Also, with the increased interest by local and federal law enforcement, their is also the possibility of armed drones in US skies. Terrorist hackers controlling either one of these types of aircraft would be very concerning to the public.

Hopefully the politicians at the Homeland Security meeting got the point and understand the risks. Drones need to be hardened against subversion attacks before they become a common fixture over US cities.


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