No need to shoot down drones! Many of them can now be hijacked

icarus drone hijacking

The Icarus device can hijack drones that use the DSMx radio control protocol. Credit: Jonathan Andersson/Trend Micro

A security researcher has devised a method of hijacking a wide variety of radio- controlled airplanes, helicopters, cars, boats and other devices that use a popular wireless transmission technology.

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The attack was developed by Jonathan Andersson, manager of the Advanced Security Research Group at Trend Micro DVLabs, and targets a “wideband, frequency-agile 2.4GHz signal protocol” called DSMx. This protocol is used in radio-control (R/C) toys, including in drones, that are owned by millions of users.

Andersson’s attack exploits weaknesses in DSMx and was presented in detail Wednesday at the PacSec security conference in Tokyo. The researcher built a device that he dubbed Icarus, using off-the-shelf electronic components and software-defined radio (SDR). With it, he can take over the control of drones or other R/C devices and lock out their real owners in seconds.

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