Kids take control of FAA approved domestic drones – showing how we could have 30,000 9/11’s in our future
Gary Stix, the senior editor and web blog writer for Scientific American who usually does work in neuroscience, has a blog at http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/talking-back/2012/06/28/researchers-hack-drones-a-science-project-anyone/ that reveals why folks should be scared about the GOP idea of killing regulation of business and the outsourcing of more military and federal worker work and supervision of corporation’s work – at least they should be scared if profits don’t come before the possibility of 30,000 events like 9/11 in the US.
At the University of Texas at Austin’s Radionavigation Lab Todd Humphreys and his team of researchers and students exposed bit of a flaw in domestic drone technology by demonstrating last week in front of some FAA folks and some Department of Homeland Security officials that it is relatively easy to take control of an airborne drone by hacking into its GPS system. The Iranians that downed a military drone likely jammed the signals being sent to it so it crashed, but here the kids did some computer “spoofing,” in which you actually become a ground-based pilot by tricking the onboard drone computer. Humphreys was quoted by Fox: “What if you could take down one of these drones delivering FedEx packages and use that as your missile? That’s the same mentality the 9-11 attackers had.” And for the low budget terrorist the good news is that the cost to convert a drone flying overhead into your hobby airplane is only $1,000 – less that a ticket on a flight you want to commandeer, and you don’t have to die with your newly acquired missile. Homeland Security, the folks that did not see a need for tech on offer from some friends of mine that would have helped stop 9/11 (and is still needed), do not seem to have grown wiser over the years and do not seem to have a plan to deal with this problem. Homeland security has two projects going on for anti-jamming systems in preparation for the advent of domestic drones, but not a damn thing for kids doing some backyard spoofing attacks
The American military’s unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) use technology not used by the private companies (but not all that high tech – just a simple encrypted GPS system that the private companies have avoided the cost of developing) that stops at least this version of “spoofing”, but the lack of a domestic drone company encrypted GPS system has not stopped our GOP friends from pushing these domestic drones on our cities, states, and towns, and even our forest fighting folks. So as of now if you buy your teenager a bit of radio equipment, they can live that video game plot of taking down buildings in cities with the FAA approved drones as missiles.
Does anyone think that under our American corporate controlled government – regardless of whether it is nominally headed by a Democratic or a Republican President – will push DOHS to put out regulations (pardon the bad word) and establish Federal supervision so that our domestic UAV’s do not become 30,000 (the projected sales over the next few years) missiles attacking our cities? Do you think Congress will do more than hold hearings – and indeed they may not hold hearings as the hearing itself may be harassment of out good friends in industry.