Researchers hack drone aircrafts via spoofing

Researchers have reportedly crafted a way to hack into GPS-guided drones via a technique known as spoofing.

As reported by America's Fox News, Professor Todd Humphreys and his team at the University of Texas at Austin's Radionavigation Laboratory can take control of drones that could be flying over US airspace in the years to come.

They can then guide them to another location or crash the drones into the ground, a safety hazard for those below.

Humphreys's team demonstrated the hack to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials in the New Mexico desert last week, according to Fox.

A DHS spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Until now, drone-related concerns have mostly focused on jamming, which blocked access to the devices' GPS signals. Spoofing, however, is a "giant leap forward in technology," Fox noted. Humphreys, for example, used a machine that boasts "a signal more powerful than the one coming down from the satellites orbiting high above the earth" but costs a mere £630 ($1000 US).

The research is particularly troublesome because the US Congress in February ordered the Federal Aviation Administration to allow expanded public and private drone access to the country's airspace by 30 September, 2015, according to the AP.

Last year, there were reports that a malware attack that hit the US Air Force had affected the military's drones, but the USAF downplayed the impact of the attack.

At Black Hat last year, meanwhile, a pair of researchers demoed WASP, a converted US Army target drone that could jam cell signals to launch DOS attacks, intercept phone calls, and sniff out Wi-Fi.