Hacker-built drone can hunt, hijack other drones

Security researcher releases software to hijack Parrot drones out of the sky

Parrot's AR.Drone 2.0

Parrot's AR.Drone 2.0

A security researcher has released software and technical instructions for modifying a drone so that it can identify and hijack other drones.

Security researcher Samy Kamkar created the hacker drone, which uses the Parrot AR.Drone 2.0 radio-controlled quadcopter -- a popular unmanned helicopter with four rotors.

Made by French wireless products manufacturer Parrot, the AR.Drone 2.0 has a built-in Wi-Fi wireless controller that's used to control the drone remotely from iOS or Android mobile devices.

Kamkar's drone carries a Raspberry Pi embedded computer running Linux and has two USB wireless adapters connected to it, an Alfa AWUS036H Wi-Fi network card with an external antenna and an Edimax EW-7811Un nano Wi-Fi adaptor. A lightweight 1000mAh USB battery is also part of the payload and powers the Raspberry Pi.

The Alfa Wi-Fi adaptor is important because its wireless chipset can run in monitor mode. The monitor, or RFMON (Radio Frequency MONitor), mode can be used to monitor and inject raw packets into other wireless networks without being connected to them, Kamkar said in his SkyJack presentation video.

Kamkar developed a Perl application dubbed SkyJack that runs on the Raspberry Pi and uses other open-source software to hijack drones.

SkyJack uses the Alfa adapter's monitor mode to identify other Parrot AR Drones by their MAC addresses, which all contain Parrot's vendor identifier, and then attempts to deauthenticate their real owners.

This is done using Aircrack-ng, an open-source program for hacking into wireless networks. According to the Aircrack-ng documentation a deauthentication attack "sends disassociate packets to one or more clients which are currently associated with a particular access point."

Once the real owner is disconnected from a targeted drone, SkyJack connects to it pretending to be the owner and starts sending commands using node-ar-drone, an open-source library that implements the networking protocols used by the Parrot AR Drone 2.0.

The Parrot drone with the Raspberry Pi attached is only needed for mobile attacks, but the SkyJack application can also run from any Linux laptop on the ground and hijack drones out of the sky, Kamkar said in a blog post.

The researcher released SkyJack on GitHub and said that the idea for creating a drone hijacking application came to him after reading that Amazon is considering using drones to deliver packages.

"Today Amazon announced they're planning to use unmanned drones to deliver some packages to customers within five years. Cool!" Kamkar said. "How fun would it be to take over drones, carrying Amazon packages...or take over any other drones, and make them my little zombie drones. Awesome."

Kamkar is known for releasing the infamous Samy cross-site scripting worm on MySpace in 2005, forcing the company to temporarily shut down the website, an act for which he served three years of probation during which he could not use a computer. Since 2008, he has been involved in security research, uncovering a serious flaw in PHP, exposing privacy risks associated with the collection of GPS coordinates and wireless network information by mobile devices, and releasing Evercookie, a highly persistent browser cookie that demonstrates how many technologies can be used to track users.

Parrot was not immediately available for comment.

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags intrusionparrotNetworkingsecuritywirelessAccess control and authenticationWLANs / Wi-Fi

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Lucian Constantin

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?