Over a million drones have been sold to the hobby market in the U.S. alone. Some have been sold with more nefarious purposes intended.
To make matters worse, the FAA expects that number to triple – to over 4 million drones – by 2021.
Drones are used by farmers to manage their fields, to inspect infrastructure such as pipelines, and even, on a trial basis, by Amazon to deliver your package.
In Iraq and Syria, they are used to drop grenades and small explosives, in prisons to deliver contraband and take pictures of you while sunbathing in your birthday suit in your back yard.
In addition to these stories, there are hundreds of new stories every day.
The challenge is how to separate the good from the bad and that is not easy.
Information for this post came from World Wide Technologies.
The first answer is that today, for consumers, there is no good answer. The military is probably in a little better position, but not much.
It is important to understand that shooting down your neighbor’s drone or even interfering with its radio or GPS signal is a crime and will get you arrested (and has gotten people arrested) if you are caught at it. Under U.S. law, a drone is considered an airplane and shooting down your neighbor’s $500 DJI drone will get you the same treatment as if you shot down a commercial airplane – so don’t even think about it.
Here is what the experts are looking at. Some drones stay in radio contact with their controllers. It that is true, you may be able, with the right equipment, to track back the radio signals back to the controller, if you are lucky.
Some drones can be programmed to travel on a flight path without any communication back to its owner. In order to track these guys you need way more sophisticated technology – Infrared signal trackers for example. Very expensive today.
The drone maker DJI has released AeroScope, a system to track only DJI drones by the signals that they emit. Owners can, however, encrypt those signals and the system won’t track competitor’s drones, so it is of limited use.
For drones used for surveillance, such as, possibly, the one that crashed into the 40th floor of the Empire State Building last year, standard security measures work – close the blinds to keep out cameras, encrypt WiFi to discourage eavesdropping and if you think you are a target like banks and law firms, up the ante on those – strong encryption and light/radio blocking window blinds.
Right now the bad guys are winning, but stay tuned, people are working on the problem.