Hacker modifies toy drone to hack and take over other toy drones

Dec 05, 2013 by Bob Yirka weblog

(Phys.org) —Well known hacker Samy Kamkar has figured out a way to program a store-bought drone to take away control of other store-bought drones from their owners, and then to give the enslaved drones commands of its own. He calls the result SkyJack. Even more dramatically, he's created a video describing how to do it so that others can create their own drone hackers, and has posted it all on his blog.

Samy Kamkar achieved fame by knocking MySpace offline in 2005 (and going to jail for it). After going straight, he was one of those people instrumental in exposing phone makers that were adding tracking capabilities to smartphones. In this latest endeavor, he's added off-the-shelf hardware and Internet available code to a commercially sold drone—the quadcopter Parrot—to allow it to hack other Parrot drones.

The concept is rather simple, he added a small single board computer (Raspberry Pi circuit board) that runs Linux, to his Parrot, installed some code and then added a little battery and two tiny wireless transmitters. Once airborne, the drone listens for a Wifi signal, if it hears one, it looks for a MAC address from a list it has, if a match is found, the device sends a disabling code, revoking control from the drone's owner. Then his pretends it's the rightful owner and starts sending control codes to the enslaved Parrot, directing its flight, and/or sending back images from its camera.

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.

More than anything, the SkyJack appears to be a stunt of sorts, coming on the heels of an announcement by Amazon that it plans to deliver packages via drones someday soon. The makers of Parrot will obviously be embarrassed by Kamkar 's work, but will undoubtedly add security features to them, preventing them from being skyjacked, which they probably should have done before selling them in the first place. His actions do however, highlight the increasing presence of drones in our lives and how those that make them need to be sure that they can't be hacked, lest pizza's or mail order socks in the future be delivered to the wrong address, or worse, fall prey to those wishing to create a fleet of enslaved roaming drones darkening our skies with menace.

Explore further: Amazon drone technology almost there, regulation nonexistent

Related Stories

Amazon drone technology almost there, regulation nonexistent

Dec 05, 2013

For Amazon's recently announced drone delivery system to get off the ground, the company will have to solve numerous difficult technological challenges. Chief among them will be increasing battery life, getting the drone ...

Commercial drones on the horizon

Dec 04, 2013

Internet retail giant Amazon.com hopes eventually to deliver packages by using flying robots, self-guided drones akin to those used by the military. The concept conjures images of holiday skies clouded with ...

Recommended for you

EU holds largest-ever cyber security exercise

12 minutes ago

A European Union cyber-security agency was in Athens to conduct the largest exercise ever held on the continent to prevent attacks on Europe's public utilities and communications networks.

What's causing the recent string of data breaches?

2 hours ago

It's Cyber Security Awareness month, which has me wondering: are we doing all we can to protect our data? To help answer this question, I sat down with Girish Bhat of Wave Systems—an important collaborator of Micron's—to ...

Court: UK spies get bulk access to NSA data

21 hours ago

The British government's insistence that its spies don't use the vast espionage powers of the U.S. National Security Agency to sidestep U.K. restrictions on domestic eavesdropping was called into question by a court document ...

Georgia Tech releases 2015 Emerging Cyber Threats Report

Oct 29, 2014

In its latest Emerging Cyber Threats Report, Georgia Tech warns about loss of privacy; abuse of trust between users and machines; attacks against the mobile ecosystem; rogue insiders; and the increasing involvement of cyberspac ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.