Is It a Bird? Is It a Plane? No, it’s a Hacker Drone – Aimed at You!

by Paul Davies, July 27, 2015

If it wasn’t enough that hackers are able to target your online information from any unsecured network to which they can gain access, it has now come to light that hacker drones are on their way, offering a new method of gaining access to your device.

According to recent reports, individuals are now looking to combine the invasive software from the notorious Italian based software company, Hacking Team, with the unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV’s) from Boeing subsidiary Institu. Their ultimate objective is to create drones that are able to approach from the sky and gain access to unsuspecting networks across the world.

Recent reports suggest that, after meeting at the International Defence Exposition and Conference back in February this year, representatives from Institu and the Hacking Team have been discussing the potential for airborne Hacker Drones. And it looks like that dream may very well become a reality.

Emails intercepted between Institu and the Hacking Team suggest that insiders considering this opportunity would like to integrate Hacking Teams’ remote control system, Galileo, into a mobile device which would then be able to access computers and networks that are otherwise impenetrable, or geographically too far away to reach.

But as this concept continues to be fleshed out, it looks like we should all start watching the skies to see the evils that may be coming our way.

How the Hacker Drone Works

Although both parties still insist they are only in the development phase of this project, the concept behind the Hacker Drone is quite simple.

Each remote controlled aerial vehicle would carry a very small infection device that could be injected into an unsecured network such as a coffee shop, transport hub or even a personal system, anywhere in the world.

Once the infection has been installed, it is simply a matter of waiting for the targeted device to use the infected network. In the absence of security such as EasyHide-VPN, the Trojan software would then penetrate the device and a connection would be made.

A user would only have to send an email, log onto the internet or simply upload a film and the malicious software would be able to take full control of the unit. The hackers would then instantly gain access to all files, emails, messages and calls stored on the device, with the ability to do with the information what they will.

Blackmail, business espionage, and the sale of credit card and financial information to potential criminals could all be on the agenda, all from harmless looking “toys” that fly through the sky.

Perversely, it has been due to a hack penetrating the databases of the Hacking Team themselves, that details on this new project have been exposed to the world. But even though such a disclosure may have put paid to this one project, the concept of a drone invasion remains very real.

The Threat of Drones

Over recent years, the use of Drones has become increasingly popular. Just like the introduction of the home PC, when the idea of the unmanned drone first came to light, more than one person was heard to be saying that they would never catch on.

But today, drones are used in every walk of life, from law enforcement and Government surveillance, through to virtual tours for holiday makers – and those that are simply too lazy to leave the comfort of their own homes.

And as more people rely on drones to access areas that they cannot afford or are unwilling to go to themselves, the potential for this type of equipment to integrate into our everyday lives gets greater and greater.

This concept of airborne hacking is not even the first of its kind. It is generally understood now that drones have been used in the capture of some of the most notorious terrorists, including Bin Laden, Mexico’s Los Zetas gang and many others where a combination of computer spyware, aerial drones and GPS have led to their ultimate demise. And while national security concerns frequently do not permit the ratification of such information, to not be using the most advanced technologies in the fight against terrorism would seem to be extremely unlikely.

Many people also still consider drones to be too large to provide any direct concern. Yet in reality, just like a micro-processor, a drone can be any size you choose. Ensuring, just like any other online invasion, a drone can take total control before you even know it is there.

All the online communication on this project so far has suggested that this new airborne hacking device has been conceptualised to assist governments who wish to access previously unreachable networks for national security reasons. But, as with all Hacking Team projects, you can be that it won’t be long before even the most innocent online users come under threat from this winged demon.

You Can Run But You Can’t Hide

For many individuals, the risk of network invasion has been far too small to warrant the effort needed to hide IP addresses or use VPN’s. Whether it is because they live too far from a road, or their nearest neighbours, or because they feel their remote nature means they are undetectable, many people have felt safe up until now. However, with the introduction of the drone no one can escape. The advent of this flying predator means that all physical networks are at risk, and even the most remote user must now stand up and take notice.

Using current technology, something as simple as a high quality VPN will provide the necessary protection against this type of invasion. Using a VPN when logging into an unsecured network means that your information and your device will be kept safe, even if other users on the same network are fully exposed.

Furthermore, by installing a VPN system on your home network, you can ensure that your personal information and online activity are not traceable back to your physical location, giving you greater privacy and greater protection.

If you need a good reason to encrypt your personal data, just look out the window; the perfect motive may be circling above you right now.