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Drone hijacked by hackers from Texas college with $1,000 spoofer

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.


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I would have taken the 1000 FRNs and run. Now DHS, for less than 30 pieces of silver, knows how we'll hack their confounded drones.

Should've posted that info up on the 'net for all to share.

all the more reason

we should be allowed to shoot them down ourselves

"well your honor, I thought the thing was hijacked by terrorists, so i wanted to save my neighborhood..."

SteveMT's picture

Gotta love those geeks. They are the best. They found ....

"the backdoor!"

"Among applications where the ProASIC3 are used are remote surveillance systems, drones, and for flight-critical applications on the new Boeing 787 Dreamliner."

Cyber-attack concerns raised over Boeing 787 chip's 'back door'
Researchers claim chip used in military systems and civilian aircraft has built-in function that could let in hackers

Charles Arthur - Tuesday 29 May 2012 13.47 ED

Two Cambridge experts have discovered a "back door" in a computer chip used in military systems and aircraft such as the Boeing 787 that could allow the chip to be taken over via the internet.
In a paper that has been published in draft form online and seen by the Guardian, researchers Sergei Skorobogatov of Cambridge University and Chris Woods of Quo Vadis Labs say that they have discovered a method that a hacker can use to connect to the internals of a chip made by Actel, a US manufacturer.

"An attacker can disable all the security on the chip, reprogram cryptographic and access keys … or permanently damage the device," they noted.

I can see this coming in

I can see this coming in really handy in the future. :)

Blessings )o(