Securing the Skies: Techniques for defending against drones

Published

IET Talk given by Amit Samani, Regional Sales Manager of DeDrone on 14th December at UTC Reading

 Amit gave a fascinating talk on all things drone related.  Throughout the talk Amit used real life scenarios to highlight the issues raised by the ever increasing number of drones around the world and the ways that they can be misused.

The main threats posed by drones can be categorised as:

·         Hacker

Intranet WiFi can be monitored and hacked easily by flying drone close to building or campus

·         Surveillance

This ranges from industrial espionage (tracking new model cars), football training grounds (for betting) to financial (monitoring who is playing who on the golf course)

·         Terrorist

Airborne delivery of explosives etc

·         Smuggler

Drugs etc being smuggled into prisons and concerts etc

The main problem today is that there is no easy way to protect the low level airspace (that is anywhere from the ground up to cloud level) that is used by drones.  At the moment there is very little that can legally be done to a drone as they are classed the same as commercial aircraft. 

The approach used by Amit’s company in helping clients around the world is first to identify whether there is a threat and then providing a means to monitor the threat.  Action can then be taken on steps to neutralise the threat.  Depending on the type of threat a lot of passive measures can be taken.

A range of sensors can be used to detect drones.  One of the easiest is to detect the control signals to and from the drone.  This is not always effective as drones can be programmed to be autonomous in flight.  Also different types of radar can be used.  For small drones the range is up to 900m and for larger ones up to 5km. Optical, audio and IR are further options.

Taking over control is difficult because there is no standard protocol between all the many manufacturers.  Jamming a drone is not a good idea as even smaller drones would present a danger to the public if they were interfered with and caused to crash.

Physical measures have been tried, but all are fraught with risk.  Selective jamming can be over-ridden by channel hopping or switching to autonomous modes.  Blanket jamming also presents a danger.  The type of threat level also has an impact on what can be carried out.

One approach is to track the drone back to the pilot and capture the pilot and the drone

The legislation in this country has not caught up with the threat yet and nothing is likely to happen until after an event when money would then become available.

As this is early days for both the problems and the solutions another talk in a years time would enable Amit to provide an update on the situation.

Blog IET Berkshire Network 05/01/2018 9:21am GMT

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