Can Someone Take Control of My Drone?

The quick and dirty answer is “yes!” Someone could take control of your drone.

However, the good news is that several precautions are very effective at preventing this from ever happening.

A study discovered holes in drone security
As drone popularity has sharply risen, hackers have discovered many ways to wrestle control of them in midflight. In 2016, a Johns Hopkins University computer security team found multiple ways to gain control of these little flying machines. And their findings raised concerns about drone security, especially since drone sales have been soaring.

Shortly after its recent introduction to the public, drone sales have gone through the roof. From recreational drones being flown for leisure to commercial drones that deliver packages or monitor crops, these unmanned flying units have already found a permanent place in the world’s technology market.

Ways to protect your drone from hacking

One of the common problems with technology is that it often grows quickly – so quick that security flaws occur before their creators can even address the normal issues. The Internet suffered from this, as did many other technological marvels.

Think first of your drone as a flying computer, and then we will discuss some ways that you can protect it from hackers.

Protect your ground controller

Since you control your drone using a computer, tablet, or mobile device, you must have a malware-free environment. We all know that losing control of your drone could be catastrophic.

A drone crash is no laughing matter as it can cause harm to lives and severe property damage.

The US military has already fallen victim to this. At one of their drone ground stations, someone had installed games on their primary computer. The computer picked up some malware through these games and was subsequently hacked by outsiders.

This is why you must have reliable malware protection on the computers that are controlling your drone.

Anti-virus and VPN for maximum ground station protection

The next step is to ensure you are using a good anti-virus program. Most of us already have experience with these, as our personal PCs typically use them.

However, it’s easy to overlook the fact that your tablet, phone, or smart device needs protection too. Drone hackers count on ordinary people to make this mistake. Please do not fall victim to their plans.

We have to address another widespread problem, and that’s your internet connection. Big-time hackers are notorious for hacking into other people’s Wi-Fi connections to transmit illegal information. They see drones as another signal to exploit.

You can subscribe to a Virtual Private Network (VPN) service to assure yourself the best defense against this practice. VPNs can get costly – depending on your needs – but to operate a drone, your needs would be relatively small.

VPNs also come with a bit of a learning curve, so you’ll have to do a little homework or seek a technician’s help to operate it properly.

Protect your drone by changing your behavior

Hackers can hone in on your drone’s signal by understanding and identifying your drone’s precise flight path. When this is identified, they essentially create a fake flight path signal that will seize control of your drone.

Because of this method, you should change your flight path regularly with no discernable pattern. It’s the repetition on which they place their focus.

GPS coordinates dictate these flight patterns, so change those coordinates – even small changes will help.

Fly in remote areas

In other articles, we have recommended drone operators to fly in somewhat remote locations to minimize problems. This is especially true for new drone pilots without much experience.

This advice will also lessen the odds of anyone hacking your drone.

Final thoughts

Let’s end this on a positive note.

While the potential of someone hacking your drone is possible, it’s highly improbable. The fact is that recreational drones do not offer a professional hacker very much of a reward.

If a hacker is interested in drones, they would likely focus their sights on a commercial drone that would bring a much bigger payoff for their efforts.

Either way, if you take some of the precautions mentioned above, then you should be able to fly your drone in peace.

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