About a month ago, a group of researchers from the University of Texas from the UT Radionavigation Laboratory demonstrated to the military and other US officials how a hacker could completely take control of an automated drone operating within US airspace. The demonstration exposed a very serious flaw in plans to allow the civilian operation of drone aircraft within US airspace.
This week the investigations panel of the House Homeland Security Committee held a hearing on how civilian operation of drones could affect the security of American airspace. According to panel chairman, Republican Michael McCall, the panel needs to ensure that the current vulnerabilities are mitigated before the drone is put to use.
The big challenge moving forward is that the FAA and the Department of Homeland Security don’t have a set of requirements or certification system in place to ensure that drones aren’t subject to hacking or GPS spoofing. Wired reports that some drone makers have their own systems in place to prevent GPS spoofing, yet surprisingly some drone manufacturers feel it’s not their place to secure the systems and others were reportedly surprised that their systems could be spoofed.
“The Department of Homeland Security mission is to protect the homeland. Unfortunately, DHS seems either disinterested or unprepared to step up to the plate,” said McCall, noting that representatives from the DHS declined to testify at the hearing.