Drones are beginning to populate the skies: Recent estimates suggest that this year’s global drone market will reach nearly three million units with tens of billions of dollars in revenue.

Other estimates suggest that the global drone market will grow at nearly 17 percent a year through 2020. The management consulting company PWC projected that the drone security market is estimated to be approximately $10.5 billion annually out of a total global drome market of $127 billion. One of the small application areas will be in security. Multiple intelligence and defense industry players are also selling drones into the commercial space and new entrants are occurring regularly. These capabilities go far beyond simple video imaging, as night-vision and motion detection are becoming quite common as well.

Amazon was the first major organizations to announce intentions to use drones for delivery, and ever since, announcements of uses continuously spring up. Yet, little attention has been given to the continuous development of drone technology and their innovative uses from the CSOs perspective. Let’s take look at one of the positives and negatives of drones in in physical security.

Good - One of the drone application areas of benefit is an aerial survey to determine the physical area covered by an organization’s wireless corporate network. It went as far as to map the area and also the wireless signal strength. 

Bad – One negative application area for drones is the temporary establishment of a rogue mobile Wi-Fi Hotspot that attempts to trick employees into logging into it to steal information.


Good – Drone security officers with sensors detect movement on a protected property and immediately dispatch a drone with video monitoring and night-vision equipment. Once on scene, the drone captures the imagery and transmits it for recording.

Bad – While attending a meeting on the executive floor of an organization I went into the executive conference room that had a solid wall of whiteboards opposite a wall of windows that looked over the city. Great view! The whiteboards were marked "Do Not Erase" and were filled with sensitive financial information. Admiring the city, what do you think flew slowly by? A small drone. Did it capture all that data on the boards? No one knows. The opportunity was there!

INTEL:  There have been multiple reports and some have expressed concerns that a number of activist groups are using drones to document corporate activities that they object to and believe to be illegal.

INSIGHT:  Some fear that drone will become the airborne vehicle for delivery of various weapons.

These and other examples are the reasons a growing number of security professionals are calling drones the ultimate tool for corporate espionage.  Perhaps all of this is why John Chambers, former CEO of CISCO, invested in a counter-drone security firm that is one of a few companies that are developing and deploying systems that detect drones within loca air-space that alerts you to anintrusion. 

This technology is rapidly evolving and is something that CSOs should examine to understand how best to identify, quantify and manage this evolving security risk.