DRONE HUNTING GOES VIRAL

Bullet-proof paint creates need for cyber weapons

Since the development of bullet-proof paint two years ago, drone manufacturers were quick to protect their products from the ‘drone hunters’ who typically shot them down at every opportunity, using special shotgun cartridges called “dronemunition.”

Drone hunting goes beyond vandalism. Many people feel drones are a threat to their privacy, trespassing on their individual rights, so why not shoot them down? So what if they’re legal, or even helping the police and city managers, performing useful social services? Like tax loopholes, drones are seen as a legitimate target.

But now drones are much harder to hunt. They’re stealthy and resilient. So hunters have turned to digital destruction. Hacking a drone is a complicated sport, but a whole network of drone haters has banded together on the dark web, and they share their secrets, collaborating to take control of drones, infect them with viruses, and make them tumble out the sky.

The latest hack turns a drone’s own smartness into the seeds of its destruction. Drones have sophisticated image recognition, so that they can navigate their way around the city. It turns out a specially printed ‘target’ can lure almost any drone to an emergency landing, or even reprogram its entire GPS system, with the right visual codes. And once the camera has scanned it, it’s too late, the drone is dead.

Amazon and DHL are rushing a software patch to counter this new trend, but for the moment the vulnerability is hard-coded in the CCD camera electronics used by 98% of commercial drones. Sony’s new video drone is said to be impervious to these attacks, but it’s not designed for parcel deliveries.

Warning: Hazardous thinking at work

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