Written By: Elena White
Article Date: Jul 2, 2012 - 9:18:41 PM
British-based newspaper Mail online reported Tuesday that security experts had warned that new technological breakthrough meant that terror groups such al-Qaida could now breach Drones – unmanned warplanes – security system and download new sets of commands, in essence turning the Drones into their own machines of war.
If one was to imagine that al-Qaida militants in Yemen were to access this technology, they could direct Drones against foreign embassies in the capital or strike Yemen’s military position, destroying the country’s abilities to strike back against terror.
The Mail wrote that such a technology is actually inexpensive – costing only $1,000 – Hijackers could through a simple electronic kit reroute Drones towards new targets, stealing away one of the West most potent, although widely controversial, weapons against terror.
The ability to bring down drones by confusing their GPS navigation was vividly shown when the Iranian government proudly showed off a U.S. military aircraft which it captured in its airspace last year.
Moreover, security analyst pointed out in their report to the Mail that the proliferation of unmanned planes for civilian purposes meant that terrorists did not necessary need to break through the defenses of a complex military security system to highjack a Drone.
“In 5 or 10 years you will have 30,000 drones in the airspace,” Professor Todd Humphreys, of the University of Texas at Austin, told Fox News. ‘Each one of these could be a potential missile used against us.’
Mr Humphreys says he has developed the most sophisticated ‘GPS spoofer’ ever made, at a cost of just $1,000, which allows him to control any drone whose navigation system is not encrypted. As UAVs are expected to become commonplace for functions such as security surveillance and package delivery, Mr Humphreys’ research is forcing officials to put up stronger safeguards.
“What if you could take down one of these drones delivering FedEx packages and use that as your missile? That’s the same mentality the 9/11 attackers had,” he said.
The Federal Aviation Administration in the U.S. is currently looking into the matter trying to develop a new regulation which will govern the use of civilian drones in U.S. airspace. Humphreys however insisted that regulations could not make up for technological advancement, urging all to seek methods to combat spoofing.
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