Growing drone use in populated areas poses significant risks that, without additional safeguards, could result in attacks by malicious entities and exploited for use in cyberattacks, terrorism, crime and invasion of privacy, according to a report by Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) and Fujitsu System Integration Laboratories Ltd. researchers.
The study on “Security and Privacy Challenges in the Age of Drones” evaluates 200 academic and industry techniques designed to detect and disable drones flying in both unrestricted and restricted areas.
The researchers examined different ways to detect drones in drone-restricted areas including radar, RF Scanners, thermal cameras, sound and hybrids of these methods. However, they say the biggest challenge is determining the drone’s purpose in non-restricted areas.
“An open-skies policy that allow drones to fly over populated areas pose a significant challenge in terms of security and privacy within society,” says Prof. Yuval Elovici, who is director of the Deutsche Telekom Innovation Labs at BGU.
Attackers can also disguise a cyber-attack as legitimate drone pizza delivery by hiding the hardware they use inside the pizza box, the study says.
“In an unrestricted area, we believe that there is a major scientific gap and definite risks that can be exploited by terrorists to launch a cyber-attack,” Nassi says. “It is inevitable that drones will become more widespread, but we need to recognize that open-skies policy pose multiple risks and that current solutions are unable to solve as a result of a major scientific gap in this area.”
The researchers propose methods that enable flying drone identification as well as registration, which is now a U.S. regulation. This includes dedicated techniques for authenticating drones and their operators.