The public narrative around drone safety has largely focused on the potential threat to aircraft. But there’s another risk that nobody is really talking about – the fact that drones are essentially flying computers and thus, are prone to code-based attacks just like any other computer.
In the case of drones, one piece of nasty code comes to mind: the Maldrone malware.
As you know, drones are ultimately controlled by their pilot but there’s a ton of autonomy going on to keep the craft in flight. It’s this part of the equation that the malware hones in on. Once it infects a drone, the malware – created by security researcher Rahul Sasi – can hand off control to a hacker or even cause the machine to shut down and fall out of the sky like a ton of bricks.
Neither scenario sounds particularly inviting as you’re going to lose your drone either way and potentially injure or even kill someone.
Those aren’t the only nefarious use scenarios. If commercial drones end up becoming a thing, malware like this could make it easy for a hacker to hijack an inbound delivery and steal whatever is being transported.
Sasi recently demonstrated the malware’s ability using a Parrot AR drone but the truth of the matter is, Maldrone is designed to work with all current drone software.
If nothing else, this proves that drone makers and potentially even regulators need to take a real close look at drone security.