If last week’s massive DDoS attack that disrupted access to major websites including Amazon, Netflix and Reddit by way of hacked Internet of Things (IoT) devices was surprising, prepare to be absolutely floored by what may lie ahead.

Researchers from the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel, the University of South Alabama and Singapore University of Technology and Design recently demonstrated the ability to hack into a computer with an attached 3D printer using a phishing attack and sabotage the blueprints for a drone propeller that was to be printed.

By making small changes to the propeller’s design that were undetectable to the human eye, the drone with the faulty propeller experienced a catastrophic crash just two minutes into its flight.

Destroying a gadget of significant value is bad enough but what’s really concerning here is that the crash leads to a sizable projectile falling from the sky. It doesn’t take much imagination to see how this could cause serious injury to unsuspecting people below.

The researchers note that while this was simply an experimental attack that only breached a private computer, similar attacks are indeed possible on a much larger scale.

As Motherboard points out, major companies like Airbus are currently designing and making aerospace components using industrial 3D printers. Imagine if an attacker found their way into such a system and made changes that would compromise safety-critical components. In that scenario, one can only hope that such defects would be spotted by quality control before being put into production.

Thumbnail courtesy Secret Service via USA Today