Industrial facilities should be on guard against drones. Even off-the-shelf versions of the unmanned aircraft could be used to disrupt sensitive systems.
On Wednesday, Jeff Melrose, a presenter at Black Hat 2016, showed how consumer drones could do more than just conduct aerial spying. The flying machines can also carry a transmitter to hack into a wireless keyboard or interfere with industrial controls, he said.
That makes them a potential security risk. A hacker could easily pilot one and land it on a building’s roof to secretly conduct surveillance through the onboard camera, he said.
In addition, the machines could interfere with a facility’s computers and other equipment. Melrose has been testing this by fitting a drone with a 20 feet-long tether that hauled a transmitter through the air. He found that it could easily hover over a target or follow a moving object while the transmitter operated.
The danger is that a drone could send off enough electromagnetic interference to disrupt the wireless networks controlling important utilities, he said. In the past, naval radar systems have done just that and accidentally forced pipelines to malfunction or burst.
He’s advising that industrial facilities consider incorporating more redundancies in their wireless networks to prevent interference. The security guards on site should also be watchful for drones that might be hovering nearby or snooping over