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Will drones present the next big cybersecurity risk?

Personal drones may create a whole new security risk

Here’s a little something you might not consider. Drones are a serious risk to both personal security and cybersecurity.

That is, at least, my prediction as remote drones grow in popularity. Right now, “smart tech” is ubiquitous. Devices of every shape and size have internet-facing capabilities, or, are considered for such. Smart TVs, fridges, lights, security devices, thermostats, and cameras fall into this network of IoT, and the trend is clear: internet connectivity is both possible and inherent to new technology. Wanted? Depends on who you ask.

Be it a trend out of convenience or necessity, “smart tech” is normalizing in slow, but steady, doses. And what makes a perfect candidate for internet connectivity? Drones. Already, RC fill a pocket of categories, ranging from enthusiasts to media production. Their ability to record hi-def video is the backbone for different industries, ranging from realtors to public infrastructure. A remote drone, for example, can record an inspect say, damaged pipes, wires, and buildings, eliminating the human risk factor. Needless to say, they do have uses beyond travel and leisure, so it’s possible we’ll see them used in different sectors of life.

Amazon, for instance, has floated the idea of drone fleets delivering your products. While it’s likely because of “sky piracy” and a host of other issues this is unlikely, it shows an interest in drones and their uses.

Drones and their future security risks

It’s possible to compromise drones already. Drones communicate with their receiver based on a packet transit system, and it can vary depending on the drone in question. “Sync packets” are sent between the two to ensure communication with sender and receiver, but it’s not full proof. But that’s not the central reason why drones can present a serious security risk in the future (if not already).

Remotely connected attack surfaces

To what degree drones will have internet connectivity isn’t exact, but it’s a possibility. If it’s accessible, why not make it? Why not use it? The question of whether drones will have net-based connectivity, whether to control them or utilize a tool on their platform, is when, not if. Imagine uploading recorded video to cloud-based servers, or live-streaming drone footage.

If it’s internet facing, it’s up for grabs.

The other problem comes from privacy, or in this case, lack thereof. We’re far away from drones filling the skies and poking their cameras in our business, but even still, it’s a common concern. A drone can cross heights and distances with relative ease, take recordings of private property, businesses, and people, all with dubious consent. In an area where you could be recorded by a mobile device without knowing, drone capabilities add to this legitimate concern.

A scenario: drone records a business property, or a home, uploads that to a cloud server, and that information is collected by unknown parties. Or, the simple fact that a drone has these capabilities is concern enough. There are regulations in place to protect people from invasive drone spying, at least to some degree, but it only takes into account drones as they are now.

If and when drones grow in capabilities, so too will their connection to the dynamics of IoT. If drones can hypothetically intrude on personal space and act as a conduit to deliver malware attacks, they could play a significant role in shaping future internet security.

-Douglas James

To learn more about protecting your IT network, contact Bytagig for additional information.

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