DHS: Drug Traffickers are hacking surveillance drones on the border

Pierluigi Paganini December 30, 2015

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security and local law enforcement confirmed that Drug Traffickers are hacking surveillance drones on the border.

Small drones are another powerful tool used by the US Department of Homeland Security to monitor its borders, but drug traffickers already adopting countermeasures. In order to avoid surveillance, drug traffickers are hacking US surveillance drones used to patrol the border.

US surveillance drones

According to Timothy Bennett, a Department of Homeland Security program manager, drug traffickers are using technology to spoof and jam the US surveillance drones.

“The bad guys on the border have lots of money. And what they are putting money into is spoofing and jamming of GPSs, so we are doing funding to look at small UAS that we can counter this,” Bennett said during a panel at the Center for Strategic & International Studies.

The principle behind the GPS spoofing attack is that sending to control system of the drone fake geographic coordinates it is possible to deceive the onboard system hijacking the vehicle in a different place for which it is commanded. Non-military GPS signals are not encrypted, this makes drones vulnerable to this kind of attacks.

Using jamming techniques against drones, it is possible to interrupt the GPS receiving transmitted to the UAVs. In this scenario the aircraft could potentially lose the capability to monitor its route and to calculate its location, altitude, and the direction in which it is traveling.

Both attack techniques are adopted by drug traffickers that belong to well-funded organizations that has access to modern advanced hacking technology.

DHS hasn’t provided further details on the attacks, but Bennett confirmed that the attacks are interfering with the operations conduced by members of the law enforcement.

“You’re out there looking, trying to find out this path [they’re] going through with drugs, and we can’t get good coordinate systems on it because we’re getting spoofed. That screws up the whole thing. We got to fix that problem,” Bennett told Defense One.

Pierluigi Paganini

(Security Affairs – surveillance drones, Drug Traffickers)

you might also like

leave a comment