Johns Hopkins Team Makes Hobby Drones Crash to Expose Design Flaws

Sales of drones—small flying machines equipped with cameras—are soaring. But new research by a Johns Hopkins computer security team has raised concerns about how easily hackers could cause these robotic devices to ignore their human controllers and land or, more drastically, crash.

Five security informatics graduate students and their professor discovered three different ways to send rogue commands from a computer laptop to interfere with an airborne hobby drone’s normal operation and land it or send it plummeting.

The finding is important because drones, also called unmanned aerial vehicles, have become so popular that they are, pardon the expression, flying off the shelves. A recent article in Fortune, referring to the 12-month period ending in April, trumpeted that Drone Sales Have Tripled in the Last Year. And the devices are not cheap. The article stated that the average cost of a drone was more than $550, though prices vary widely depending on the sophistication of the device. A recentFederal Aviation Administration report predicted that 2.5 million hobby-type and commercial drones would be sold in 2016 … MORE

Johns Hopkins University | June 8, 2016

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