When you think of drones, do you think of a toy for a hobbyist? Do you think of convenient package deliveries? Or do you wonder if drones might be used by terrorists and criminals to hurt people?
Whenever there’s a new advance in technology, someone finds a way to make that technology into a weapon. Cars have been turned into bombs and battering rams. The internet gave rise to hackers and viruses. It’s reasonable to expect that weaponized drones will become common as well.
This isn’t to say that all drones are bad. Drones have been helpful as well; real estate agencies have used drones for aerial photography, and first responders have used drones to lift hoses to fires in tall buildings and bring life preservers to people drowning far offshore. However, it’s important to realize to assume that in the wrong hands, drones — like any technology — can be dangerous.
Circadian Risk CIO Dan Young was interviewed on Fox Business News about drones
How might criminals use drones?
Drones can be used by criminals in several ways. Below are a few common ways drones can be misused.
For espionage: Drones can also be used to spy on companies or to pirate footage of events, like concerts. This is a common drone misuse and it can cost companies a lot of money. Imagine you’re General Motors, and you’re test-driving a new vehicle at the GM Proving Ground. If someone were to use a drone to capture footage of that vehicle, what would that cost your business? How much could they stand to make when they sell the rights to an image of your intellectual property?
For smuggling: Drones are an easy, low-cost way to smuggle controlled substances over borders. Case in point: drug cartels are currently using drones to carry drugs over the Mexican-U.S. border.
As weapons: Drones can be used as weapons themselves by terrorism— drones can carry a bomb, or have mounted firearms. Drones have already been used to attack oil lines and shoot at political figures in other countries. It’s likely that a drone-enabled attack could happen here. One of my biggest concerns is 100 drones converging on an open-air stadium. Attendees and even security might not even realize it was an attack until it was too late — they may see the drones in the air and assume they’re there for a halftime show.
New anti-drone innovations were introduced at GSX 2019.
How can you protect yourself from a drone attack?
While stopping a 100-drone attack is difficult, there are some countermeasures that will help you stop a drone attack.
- Nets: Nets are a way to trap and disable drones. Anti-drone net launchers cast a net into the sky to catch drones that shouldn’t be in your airspace.
- Hoses: A firehose with a powerful stream of water can be used to knock drones out of the sky.
- Trained birds of prey: Trained birds, like eagles, are able to attack drones and drive them out of the sky.
- Signal jammers: Signal-jamming technology can be used when a drone is being operated remotely, however this technology doesn’t work on drones that aren’t being operated via remote control. Drones with programmed routes won’t be affected by jammers.
- Other drones: Some companies use their own drones to attack trespassing drones and knock them out of their airspace.
Preparing for a drone attack
Armed drones can be a frightening prospect, but the good news is that companies are actively coming up with ways to keep you and your assets safe.
The most important thing is that you remain aware of the danger of malicious drones, and have a plan in place in case your organization is targeted. Many times in the risk and security industry, that’s not the case — we’re behind the curve of people trying to harm us. By being aware that drone strikes are possible instead of reacting when one occurs, you’ll be in a better position to respond if an attack occurs.
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