Unencrypted GPS Lets Hackers Take Control of Drones
Using only $1000 worth of equipment, a group of researchers hijacked a small drone, highlighting the vulnerabilities of unencrypted GPS signals. Unmanned aerial vehicles have become a fact of modern warfare, and their presence is even making its way into everyday American life: Amateurs already have turned drones into a popular hobby, and law enforcement agencies want permission to deploy them as well. But while the powerful military drones used overseas use encrypted GPS signals, the ones in the United States rely on signals from open civilian GPS, which makes them vulnerable to GPS “spoofing.”
Todd Humphreys, head of the drone-hacking lab, has warned the government of the danger of spoofing, but most official efforts to reduce GPS interference have remained focused on jamming instead. So to emphasize their worries, Humphreys and his team put on a demonstration for representatives of the Federal Aviation Administration and the Department of Homeland Security.