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Drone Hacking: How to Protect Your Drone from Hackers

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When it comes to modern technology, drones are some of the coolest things around. These little machines can often fly great distances, they can shoot videos and pictures with incredible quality, and move with astonishing speed. 

Whether you have a drone for fun flying, recording high-speed sports moments, shooting property from a bird’s eye view, or anything in between, there’s no denying that these things are beneficial. 

Drones for personal and public use are still relatively new. They have not been around long, and this means that they still have issues. One of these issues is that they can be hacked, and hackers can steal your data via the connection between your drone and the base station, or they can hijack the drone itself. 

These issues are still being worked out and improved on, but it could take time. It’s not like you should expect some kind of terrorist cell to infiltrate your drone, but you never know. It’s better to be safe than sorry. Here are some crucial steps you can take to secure yourself against malicious drone hackers. 

Don’t Cheap Out

Let’s start off by conveying an old adage − you get what you pay for. You can get a small drone for $100 or even $50, but that said, you have to wonder why there are drones that cost thousands of dollars. 

It all comes back down to the quality vs. cost issue. Although it will fly, cheap drones don’t have great features. When it comes to cheap drones, one thing that is sacrificed is security. 

Good security features on drones cost money, and if you don’t spend a decent amount, you can rest assured that your drone won’t be overly secure. If you want a secure drone, spend a few hundred dollars on it, and be sure to look for security features in the product description. 

Keep Your Controller Secure – Phone Security

One of the best things you can do to prevent malicious criminals from hacking into your drone is to keep your controller protected, by which we mean your phone, computer, or tablet is used to control the drone. 

Hackers are smart, and they can hack into your Wi-Fi signal, your Bluetooth, into radio frequencies, and everything in between. 

Anti-Virus & Anti-Malware

Perhaps the most important thing for you to do is installing top-notch anti-virus and anti-malware programs on your control, whether your phone, tablet, or computer.

Anti-virus programs will prevent crooks from hacking you and stealing info, and if they do hack you, the installed programs should notify you of it and allow you to deal with the issue. 

A VPN

Another thing that you should do is to use a VPN or virtual private network. A VPN is like a guarded gateway between your device and the internet. Once you use a VPN to connect to a server, your information becomes encrypted and anonymous. VPNs are great for security purposes, not just for watching Netflix shows from other countries. 

Look for Drones with seL4 OS

seL4 is a very new, advanced, and secure operating system that some drones have. At this time, it is regarded as one of, if not the best, OS a drone can have, and it’s all about security. This OS isolates the functions of the drone it is installed on, thus making it much harder for hackers to do anything malicious. That said, drones with this OS are very rare, and if you do find one, it’s going to cost you. 

A Word on Passwords

Although we really should not have to say this, make sure to use strong passwords. Whether for your Wi-Fi connection or your phone-to-drone connection, make sure your passwords are secure. Use long passwords that are obscure and contain numbers and symbols. Don’t use your name, birthday, or anything easy to guess. 

Return to Home Mode

One simple feature that many drones have that can save your drone from being hijacked and stolen is a return to home mode. This mode will cause your drone to return to a specific location if the signal is lost or jammed. This is not foolproof, but it can help. 

Updating Drone Firmware Regularly 

Another thing to prevent your drone from being hacked is to regularly update the firmware. Firmware updates usually come with security updates, and you always want the most recent firmware installed on your devices. The newer, the better. 

Limiting the Number of Connectable Devices 

Something else you can do to stop hackers in their tracks is limit or restrict the number of devices connected to your base station − your phone, tablet, or laptop. The fewer devices that can connect to your base station, the less likely it is to be hacked into. 

Don’t Be Predictable 

One way that hijackers can hack into your drone is by intercepting the connection between you and your drone. 

Without getting too technical, hackers will use a device that intercepts your drone’s connection and will feed their own coordinates into it to steal or crash the drone or for other malicious purposes. They will spoof fake GPS coordinates and essentially take over control of the device. 

flying a drone with controller in sunset

An excellent way to protect yourself is to regularly change your flight paths. Don’t always fly in the same place, and if you do, don’t follow the same route. Remember, hackers and their devices need to be in range to hack you, and an excellent way to prevent this is by not being predictable. 

Moreover, always monitor the location of your drone. This way, you can see if it is going off course, and therefore you could detect a malicious attack right as it happens. Simply put, if the hackers can’t find you, they can’t hack you.

Fly in Tech-Free and Low-Density Population Areas

A good protection method is not to be near any hackers. This may sound odd, but consider the fact that if you are in a densely populated city and are surrounded by thousands of signals and connections, the chances of you getting hacked are much higher. 

On the other hand, if you fly your drone in an area less densely populated and free of tech (such as Wi-Fi signals), the lower the chances of your drone being hacked. 

Simply put, the fewer people are around, the less likely it is that there is a hacker in the vicinity. Moreover, with less technology and fewer wireless signals around you, there will be fewer methods and opportunities for hackers to get into your drone. 

However, before flying drones, make sure that you check on the rules and regulations first.

Conclusion

The bottom line is that there are various steps you can take to ensure your safety against hackers. That said, there is only so much you can do, so be vigilant and always keep an eye out for suspicious-looking people or other drones flying in the area.

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