Drone hijacked by hackers from Texas college with $1,000 spooferSubmitted by PWA on Sat, 07/07/2012 - 21:33
Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin hacked and hijacked a drone in front of the dismayed Department of Homeland Security officials who had dared them $1,000 to do it.
According to exclusive coverage of the event from Fox News, the researchers flew the small surveillance drone over the Austin stadium last Monday.
The drone followed a series of GPS waypoints programmed into its flight computer in what initially looked like a routine flight.
At one point, the drone veered off course from its intended flight path.
It banked hard to the right, "streaking" toward the south, before it turned to hurtle at the ground in what looked like imminent drone suicide, according to Fox's description.
A safety pilot radioed the drone - which was owned by the university, according to Reuters - and forced it to pull up just a few feet before it would have crashed into the field.
The demonstration of the near-disaster, led by Professor Todd Humphreys and his team at the UTA's Radionavigation Laboratory, points to a "gaping hole" in the US's plan to open US airspace to thousands of drones, Fox noted: namely, drones can be turned into weapons, given the right equipment.
The researchers managed to hack the drone with a spoofer they put together with about $1,000 worth of parts.
The Department of Homeland Security traditionally has been concerned with GPS jammers - the method of interference that some believe Iran used to bring down a US spy drone in December.