back to article Hacker's Icarus machine steals drones midflight

Security researcher Jonathan Andersson has developed a tidy hardware module capable of fully hijacking a variety of popular drones and remote control gear running over the most popular protocol. Trend Micro's advanced security group manager told The Register he developed the Icarus box, and it only needs to be within range of …

  1. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    One good thing

    One good thing of this is that drones buzzing aeroplanes and the such can now be hijacked by the relevant authorities.

    1. tfewster Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: One good thing

      Unfortunately, anyone caught flying a drone in restricted airspace will just claim their drone was taken over by an evul haxx0r who made it do bad things.

      1. Ole Juul

        Re: One good thing

        I'm expecting to see more used drones on Ebay now. Particularly ones without a controller or the original box.

        1. andyk869

          Re: One good thing

          Don't hold your breath. The toy junk drones that are hackable on this protocol barely have 100 foot range. Go ahead and fly it to your hands and watch me walk over.

    2. andyk869

      Re: One good thing

      Except no one uses toy drones to attack airplanes.

      1. mediabeing

        Re: One good thing

        You know that for sure, huh, sparky? Next question is - How to you know what you claim to know?

        You'd have to be an employed member of government security to know whether or not drones in the USA have ever been used against a plane, and I don't think you have such clearance. Wake up. Grow up.

        Thanks.

  2. Mr C

    Hey dad, why is our drone flying the other way?

    >The attack can likely only be fixed by updating receivers' firmware protocols, which is a feat not possible on most devices.

    So they went to the trouble of locking down their kit using a 3rd party protocol (someone else thought it up/everyone else is using it so it must be good) and are now lulling themselves into a false sense of security and not bothering to offer firmware upgrade capabilities.

    Them telling us its a matter of cost is not going to fly (see what i did there) considering we're talking about machines that start off at a few hundred back and go up waaay higher (pun)

    Curious to see how (if ever) the first lawsuit about a hijacked drone will play out.

    In the meanwhile i will feel good knowing what happened to my drone as i see it fly away to a new owner

    1. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

      Re: Hey dad, why is our drone flying the other way?

      "not bothering to offer firmware upgrade capabilities"

      That wasn't what was said at all; it is "a feat not possible on most devices". That is because code is often burned into microcontrollers which are then soldered to circuit boards without any means of reprogramming them.

  3. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge
    Pirate

    now that is cool!

    Hijacking Pilotless flying machines?

    without having to gain phyical access?

    or even hack into the operators bunker?

    its the stuff of science fiction!

    Isnt that what they were doing at the start of "Interstellar" ?

    Also on the firefly episode "Trash" - even then they had to physically swap a circuit board

    [edit]

    although having googled it , it seems its not a new idea . many results.

    the most spectacular being a Drone that flys around hijacking other drones - making its own flying botnet! lol

    pied piper style!

    http://arstechnica.com/security/2013/12/flying-hacker-contraption-hunts-other-drones-turns-them-into-zombies/

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      hijacking other drones - making its own flying botnet!

      Heh - shame you can't also teach them to recharge themselves as well.

      1. 8-{>

        Re: hijacking other drones - making its own flying botnet!

        If Imperial College have their way they soon could without needing to plug in...

        http://www3.imperial.ac.uk/newsandeventspggrp/imperialcollege/newssummary/news_17-10-2016-13-48-58

        and

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x3bJYh-YSfg

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: hijacking other drones - making its own flying botnet!

        "Heh - shame you can't also teach them to recharge themselves as well."

        Maybe it time to rebuild Teslas Wardenclyffe Tower :-)

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nice

    So; declare a drone exclusion zone round anything sensitive, put one of these on the top of every sensitive installation and have it hijack any drone within range, simply saying "Stop" = Drone falls out of sky (Or saying "Goto position XYZ and fall outa the sky, so we can collect the remains)

  5. Sleep deprived
    Happy

    Can the hijacker be hijacked?

    With another Icarus kit?

    1. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

      Re: Can the hijacker be hijacked?

      It's an interesting thought. In theory, yes.

      The hijacker has to get their timing right and send a command just before the real owner sends theirs; this causes the receiver to take the hijacker's commands and ignore the owner's. So a command sent just before the hijacker's should likewise get theirs ignored.

      How far one could go would depend on how long subsequent commands were locked out for.

  6. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    So drones can now be positively classified as Internet of Tat devices?

  7. Alistair Silver badge
    Coat

    things that make ya go hmmmmm.

    ""It works against all DSMx based radio systems, which would include drones, airplanes, cars, boats, and so on," Andersson says."

    Not too sure that "drones" is the item that should be leading that list.

    (gonna have to go check the driveway for DSMx signals ......)

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: things that make ya go hmmmmm.

      "Not too sure that "drones" is the item that should be leading that list."

      The author left out "RC model" before each of the devices mentioned.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Come on, you put a picture of a DJI Phantom on the article, but that drone is protected, they hacked the protocol for the cheapest chinese junk drones- toys. No one cares you took control from a child.

    1. Ru'

      Odd all the hate for an RC protocol, which is widely used on many rc vehicles (including large ones) and has a very decent range.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So when you take over my high performance F3F fully composite carbon fibre glider flying at over 100mph and you crash it into some killing them instantly will you be the one facing man slaughter charges?

    We fly in controlled environments but in the wrong hands a 3 meter wing span glider at 4kg made of carbon fibre will kill at those speeds. You seem intelligent, maybe you should think before developing this kind of hijacking capabilities and letting it get into incompetent hands.

    Idiot...

    1. martinusher Silver badge

      Re: Gloder hijacking

      >So when you take over my high performance F3F fully composite carbon fibre glider flying at over 100mph...

      Realistically, if you're doing any kind of timed speed run you should be on a course where a crash will not hit anyone. You can't rely 100% on radio communications and the integrity of the plane's structure so its better to be safe than have to deal with the paperwork involved in hitting someone or something.

      You have to use common sense when flying. I fly 3 and 4 meter ships myself (RES and full-house) and they're kept away from structures and roads even if the thermals are inviting -- its better to land and relaunch than risk alienating a neighbor or (worse) having a crash. As for radio interference I'm still on 72MHz (USA) because 2.4GHz at our regular flying field has started to become problematical -- it works but you've got to be careful where you fly. (And yes.. you do get morons who think its cool to shoot down planes; we had to track one with a direction finder some years back. Fortunately they're a tiny minority.)

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