UAV regulators should see cyber security as a top priority.
At The Commercial UAV Show 2014, it wasn’t just UAV designers and manufacturers who were doing the talking. There were also a number of regulators present, and commercial drone users, enthusiasts and hobbyists were eager to learn what these regulators are doing to facilitate the progress of UAV technology.
One of the speakers was James Williams, Manager of the Federal Aviation Administration’s UAS (Unmanned Aerial System) Integration Office. There’s no doubt that regulation is currently slowing the progress of commercial UAVs, but James assured us that his company are doing their utmost catalyse the process in a safe and sustainable manner.
Currently, many commercial UAV licenses are granted on an individual basis. James stated that the FAA are looking to introduce universal rules, which will make standard certification easier and give local authorities clear guidelines on what usage is and isn’t legal. Furthermore, UAVs come in all shapes and sizes, from that of a hummingbird to that of a helicopter, and James added that the FAA are also investigating what smaller UAVs can be deregulated, which will lessen the burden of regulators globally.
The FAA’s objective is education rather than criminalisation. Regulators cannot be everywhere at once – by educating users, sellers and authorities, bodies like the FAA can make the use of UAV technology far safer for everyone over the coming years. As James put it, ‘we’re looking for compliance, not enforcement.’
James Williams continued his talk in a more intimate seminar later that afternoon, which is where the issue of cyber security was first broached. The future of UAVs is likely to involve excessive commercial and personal use, and this is where maintaining safety will become most difficult. Amazon have already proposed a Prime UAV delivery system, but all regulators know that the world is simply not ready yet.
The risk of cyber attack is not the most prevalent issue for most regulators, but when you consider the possibility of UAVs being used by companies and individuals on a daily basis, it is a definite concern.
Here’s what you should know about drones and their vulnerability to cyber attack:
- It has already been proven that UAVs are vulnerable to hacking. A drone capable of flying at high speeds is a mini-missile when in the wrong hands.
- Think about how prevalent hacking currently is online. A technologically advanced drone would be subject to all of the same risks.
- UAV hacking poses a risk to military drones, let alone those which are for commercial/personal use.
The progress of commercial UAVs should not be hindered – the benefits of their use outweigh the disadvantages tenfold. However, seeing as ‘cyber attack’ are not the first words on anyone’s lips when they talk about drone regulation, cyber security is an issue that must be taken more seriously and solved before UAV usage can reach its full potential.
Is cyber security of interest to you?
If so, take a look at The Cyber Security Show, taking place in London 2015.