Fox News reports that a professor-led team of students at the University of Texas successfully hacked into a drone, proving to the US government that opening up the skies to UAVs might have devastating consequences.
UT professor Tood Humphreys lead a group of students in the construction of a drone-hacking device that cost a measly $1,000. During a demonstration at the University of Texas stadium, Humphreys and his team successfully used the device to hack into and take control of an unmanned drone.
They used a technique called spoofing, which is basically like pulling the old switcheroo with satellite signals. In a nutshell, the drone receives signals from GPS satellites out in space that tell the drone where it is and where it’s going. Humphrey’s device used an identical but stronger signal to trick the drone. Once he had the drone’s full attention, he was able to feed it whatever erroneous information he wanted.
Humphreys hopes that this demonstration will send a bit of constructive criticism to the folks in Washington. He said, “It just shows that the kind of mentality that we got after 9/11, where we reinforced the cockpit door to prevent people hijacking planes — well, we need to adopt that mentality as far as the navigation systems for these UAVs.”
He fears that America could be seriously threatened if drones populate the skies and there aren’t the proper defensive measures in place. Humphreys warns, “In five or 10 years you have 30,000 drones in the airspace. Each one of these could be a potential missile used against us.”
We go to the Middle East to fight the guys who attacked us on 9/11, revolutionize drone technology while we’re at it, and then populate our airspace with drones that are just waiting to be transformed into more homemade missiles. That’d be a bit ironic, wouldn’t it?