They can be only a few feet in diameter, capable of carrying payloads like a camera or a small computer. They can also have a 20-meter wingspan and hold Hellfire missiles that weigh 500 pounds.
However, for the most part, drones are pretty much free-ranging IoT (Internet of Things) devices with wireless communications fitted into a shell that’s smaller than a lawnmower. They are vulnerable to all the cyber threats that affect IoT projects, as well as IoT devices/applications. They have vulnerabilities that can be exploited.
At the same time, IoT might very well lead the way towards effective infrastructures that help us tighten security around drones.
Safety is a pertinent issue
Drones have evolved into diverse additions to the tech sector, with a variety of applications that can be used in specific situations. They can help do work in agriculture that was previously too difficult and time consuming for humans.
Camera-mounted drones can be used to track infrastructure, difficult to access parts of ancient monuments, wildfires or wildlife, while advanced sensors can even be used for geological surveys.
The downside is that all these categories carry some form of security risk. Only the military drone can be considered relatively safe. Like other IoT devices, other drones are quite open to being hijacked and misused, and can also threaten your health/physical safety.
When IoT works with a device and centralized cloud systems, it’s important to realize that security solutions for these infrastructures must revolve around data. It’s data security that is often breached and compromised.
Whenever data is transmitted within an IoT device (such as a drone), it’s usually moved to a centralized server like a public cloud or a database. It’s easy to see how important data protection becomes in this case.
Data security for drones can be considered to be in its early stages (at least in terms of adoption).
On top of this, an organisation’s data security should not be considered permanent. All the technologies they use can be breached to a certain extent. Many IT organizations are in a struggle against inadequate security standards.
To make things worse, connectivity is growing at a rapid pace, making the whole aspect of data security even more vital and complex.
Encryption is a double-edged sword
For the most part, drone data security exists on three major levels: the interaction between a user and a drone, the transferring of wireless data and finally cloud storage.
Because of bandwidth constraints, transmitting large amounts of data wirelessly may still seem far from fact. However, this does not make data security less important for the future.
Greater security with regards to drone data provided through encrypted data-links helps to reduce the risk of hacking. However, this also means having to deal with threats brought about by encrypted rogue drones.
Using the capabilities of powerful sensors
Sensors that leverage IoT infrastructure can provide an alternative answer to the security problem.
As an example, garden lamps with microphones and motion/vibration detectors could possibly be mounted along the perimeter of a site, alerting the homeowner (who uses a mobile app to launch a camera drone) when they see something that they find suspicious.
The drone maps a path to the “trouble spot” automatically and relays real-time videos back to the owner from the camera. Upon finishing its tour, the drone returns to the charging base and uploads the data to the cloud from there.
There are still many questions to be answered, including “How simple would it be to hijack the drone?”
With developers working towards finding new ways to make drone security more reliable and user-friendly, through IoT, real progress is possible.
By using IoT, small devices like thermostats can be controlled via a smartphone. Soon, complex flying machines may be easier to control. However, this also means that hijackings are possible.
Safety mechanisms at each level can make a difference. Trust boundaries can be incorporated into drone data security to benefit the movement of data from one source to another.
Mistakes should be expected
As developers continue to push through this complex and difficult area of security, mistakes should be expected.
There are already solutions available to help people safely connect drones to the internet of things. Expect that a lot of resources will be spent on drone data security, even though trial-and-error will likely occur.
New, advanced technology isn’t always safe (particularly in the beginning). Self-driving cars come with their own problems too. Similarly, drones are still at risk.
Spying, privacy invasion and even WiFi sniffing above restricted locations are all realities. However, while IoT may pose a new set of problems, it may also provide us with solutions as the drone industry matures.
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