Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Ummmm .... About Your Drone CONOPS

Ahhhh, yes. From wannabee police forces that cannot get enough of spying on people just living their lives, to others looking to look on the cheap - everyone wants their own drone.

Well ... there are issues;
Using a GPS spoofing device that cost less than $1,000 to build, a University of Texas team was able to commandeer an unmanned aircraft and send it veering off course.

After initially demonstrating the concept in Austin, assistant professor Todd Humphreys and his team were invited to White Sands, N.M., on June 19 by skeptical Department of Homeland Security officials and proved they could divert a UAV from its flight path from about a kilometer away, a university news release said.

“The recent demonstration ... is the first known unequivocal demonstration that commandeering a UAV via GPS spoofing is technically feasible,” according to the release.
It is one small step from there ...
Civilian GPS devices are unencrypted and extremely vulnerable to spoofing attacks. While not impossible, doing the same to military aircraft that use encrypted signals would be more difficult. Military aircraft are more vulnerable to “broad-spectrum attacks,” Humphreys said.

Those attacks do not take direct control but jam an unmanned aircraft’s ability to receive signals. That can confuse them and send them into holding patterns that keep them circling overhead until they run out of fuel and crash or automatically land.

Many drones run on both GPS signals and direct command from a ground station.

“All drones do well if you cut one of the two links, but if you snip both, they don’t,” Humphreys said. “If you overwhelm the aircraft with enough jamming, it fails to navigate and can’t even phone home for help.”
Humphreys said there are always possible threats, even to encrypted links, but “this is not going to affect Predator drones, Global Hawks — it mostly concerns civilian drones that will inhabit the national airspace in 2015 and beyond.”

If spoofed, those could be piloted into targets in the U.S., he said, turning even cargo drones into deadly missiles.
Let you imagination go from there.

I'm a fan us UAS/V, but there are limits and risks.

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