Drone invasion offers solutions – and new headaches – for cybersecurity

August 5, 2016

At this week’s Black Hat hacker conference in Las Vegas, cybersecurity researchers showed how drones can help secure wireless networks but also how the flying gadgets can be used in attacks.

The drones have arrived. They’re flying over parks, neighborhoods, and occasionally crashing near the White House lawn.

And as the number of commercial drones is expected to top 7 million by 2020, researchers are working quickly to build new defenses against the potential misuse of unmanned aerial vehicles – and trying to figure out how the flying gadgets can actually bolster cybersecurity.

“Drone tech has been advancing rapidly,” said David Latimer, an analyst at the cybersecurity firm Bishop Fox. “It’s a lot of fun and very exciting, but it’s also the next step for security research.”

At this week’s Black Hat hacker conference in Las Vegas, Mr. Latimer demonstrated the Danger Drone, a custom-built aircraft the size of a credit card that anyone with enough technical knowhow can build for about $500.

“It’s a fully functional hacker’s laptop that can fly,” he said.

The idea behind Danger Drone is that cybersecurity professionals would deploy it to remotely test the resiliency of Wi-Fi or Bluetooth networks outside office buildings, attempt to penetrate the networks using the drone, and then patch the vulnerabilities.

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