Hacker Turns Hijacked Drones into “Zombies”

By: | December 17th, 2013

Is that drone on its original mission or has it been hijacked? Image courtesy gizmag.com

Will there be any blue skies and white puffy clouds to see in our future or will the view be muddled with a traffic jam of drones? We’ve been hearing a lot of talk lately about unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) filling the skies to make us feel as if that future sky will be filled with swarms of flying robots.

Though there aren’t that many drones flying around currently, this might change very soon. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) estimates that we could see as many as 15,000 drones in the sky by 2020.

There might come a time when we will wait for a drone instead of a truck to deliver our package. Amazon already shared plans to use airborne drones to deliver goods within 30 minutes of your order.

But what if hackers could hijack those drones?

One such hijacker is already here. Notable hacker Samy Kamkar has custom built the software for Skyjack, which he uses along with a modified Parrot AR.Drone 2 to seek wireless signals of other drones and take control of them … even while in flight.

Skyjack takes over drones in the sky and literally turn them into zombie drones. Skyjack’s controller can gain  complete access to other drones and can issue commands to them using just a tablet or laptop. The controller can change the other drone’s course, adjust its speed and even view the drone’s live video feeds.

At present, Skyjack can only hijack other drones that use similar communication systems to those employed by Parrot. But shouldn’t that be enough to wake up companies to make their future drones more secure?

Nidhi Goyal

Nidhi is a gold medalist Post Graduate in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences. You can also find Nidhi on Google+.

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