Monitoring the sky for drones
Image from the Rohde & Schwarz whitepaper, Protecting The Sky

It is essential to detect, identify, locate and counter the targeted signals, in the shortest possible time.

The use of Radio Controlled (RC) Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) for civilian and commercial purposes has been growing steadily for the past decade. Unmanned Aircraft (UA) systems are an advancing technology with a proven record for providing beneficial “eye in the sky” services, but which also raise serious concerns with regard to privacy and safety.

This paper provides an overview of the different types of UAV and their communications behavior. A conceptual solution for both monitoring and countermeasures is also presented.

Undeniably, surveillance technologies and applications have burgeoned during the last several decades. The existence of drones adds a further dimension to surveillance, both in terms of capabilities and potential threats. Beyond the well-known problems of data privacy, drone-based surveillance threatens another vital human concern: behavioral privacy. As public concern continues to rise, policy and regulatory responses become more necessary.

Clearly not all use of UAVs is threatening. However, the number of incidents involving the irresponsible or illegal use of drones is growing fast. The list below provides a typical cross-section of news items dealing with the use of civilian and commercial drones. The types of drones mentioned can be easily bought and operated for criminal or even hostile purposes.

The increasing amount of affordable civilian drones capable of carrying payloads of some 100g up to a few kg leads to an emerging threat for critical infrastructures, VIPs and public events. Threats may involve simple disturbances (privacies), spying or even incur severe harms (terror attacks). Facing with the challenges and difficulties of intercepting radio controlled drones as well as their operators, many authorities have been striving to achieve a solution in drones monitoring and countermeasures.

conceptual model for monitoring UAV
Rohde & Schwarz conceptual model
This is a topic that gets a tremendous amount of attention. In August 2016 MITRE conducted the Counter UAS Challenge which was observed by well over 100 Federal agency representatives. And in September 2016, testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee made it clear the impact sUAS were having on the battlefield – literally forcing a rethinking of US doctrine.
This is an extremely technical paper, well above my pay grade, so in the interests of being thorough I sent it over to David Kovar who is our resident expert on all things security. David wrote back to say “Thank you. They get more detailed on jamming than anyone else I’ve seen. Like many papers, the citations may be the
most valuable.”
Well worth a look if monitoring and countermeasures is an area of concern to
your organization.

download the whitepaper

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