Drones and cybersecurity Part 2: Solutions

Michael Kushin is senior vice president at CACI International Inc.

Since my last blog post, "Drones and cybersecurity part 1: The challenges we face and cybersecurity's role," we've heard of more incidents of drones flying around and near airports, discussions about the exploding use of drones for official, commercial, and private use, …and a private drone crashing on the White House lawn. Safe to say the sense of urgency has ratcheted up quite a bit.

Conventional methods to detect and mitigate threats from drones are limited; radars either don't detect drones or characterize them incorrectly (i.e. migratory birds). Additionally, if radar does detect the drone, it cannot mitigate the threat or identify the source. Clearly a comprehensive solution that finds and IDs the drone platform, mitigates the threat safely, and provides forensic evidence to government and law enforcement officials is necessary whether you're protecting the Super Bowl, an airport, or a government facility.

As I mentioned last time, drones have onboard logic and communications channels, therefore the use of advanced cybersecurity platform protection techniques can be employed. Defense contractors and technology companies alike are developing cybersecurity solutions to address the aforementioned challenges. One approach that has been developed creates a "cyber fence" that employs the use of cyber defense techniques found on traditional IT networks, except it uses those techniques against platforms such as drones. This cyber fence can be integrated into other physical, electronic, and cyber defense mechanisms to offer full protection against this threat.

Other methods of defense will be employed, including drone manufacturers implementing "no fly zones" in firmware, and expected legislation to further regulate the use of drones in restricted areas. However, these approaches only lower the risk from hobbyists and others that buy commercial drones from stores and online, not against homebuilt drones or employed by bad actors.

As seen from recent incidents, a sense of urgency demands that action be taken, from Congress and through the deployment of effective countermeasures. That way, the potential of drones for commercial and private use can be realized and the next story we hear is about a drone delivering dinner to your front door.

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