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With $1000 and a Team of Geniuses, You Too Can Hack a Government Drone

Illustration for article titled With $1000 and a Team of Geniuses, You Too Can Hack a Government Drone

With the drone era upon us—drones flying through US airspace, no less—securing these pilotless aircraft is of the utmost importance because of the threat an errant vehicle could pose to civilians. But in answering a dare from the Department of Homeland Security, a team of researchers from the University of Texas proved that a government drone could be hijacked with a GPS spoofing device made for less than $1000.

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According to Fox News, the researchers were able to hijack the drone and set it on a path of destruction (without actually destroying anything, mind you), buy analyzing the GPS signal the drone was locked in on, then sending a stronger signal for it to pick up on.

Initially, his signal matches that of the GPS system so the drone thinks nothing is amiss. That's when he attacks — sending his own commands to the onboard computer, putting the drone at his beck and call.

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Obviously, it's not like anyone can do this. But the thought that a group of people with the proper collection of brains and resources could launch missiles from a drone (or turn a drone itself into a weapon) is a scary thought. [Fox News via Reuters]

Image via AP

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DISCUSSION

sid-majumdar
Pastor of Muppets

"But the thought that a group of people with the proper collection of brains and resources could launch missiles from a drone..."

Maybe I missed it, but I don't think they could actually get into the control software and launch missiles. I think they just manipulated the GPS signals it was receiving in order to make it change course. I suppose if you knew it was programmed to fire missiles at a particular set of coordinates you could spoof that location in this way, thus prompting the firing of missiles, but that would require prior knowledge of where the drone planned to fire. This is assuming they have that sort of think planned that far in advance...I have no idea.