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Is drone-jacking the next potential terrorism threat?

Drones currently play an invaluable role in surveillance conducted by both private and state security forces across the world. However, they can just as easily be utilised - or even hi-jacked - by terrorist organisations and used to access state information and spy on those protecting the general public.

This is according to Jared Higgins, CEO of the Arcfyre Group, a leading protective and risk consulting firm, who says that while drones have traditionally been associated with hobbyists for recreational use, their potential to drastically enhance and streamline the processes of delivery, movement and observation has seen them pique the interest of many organisations, governments and terror forces alike.

“The increase in drone-jackings recently highlighted in the media, means that security and protective service organisations need to look beyond the traditional threats and be ever cognisant of the growing body of tech savvy cyber criminals. These individuals, whether for political, social or economic gain, are finding increasingly sophisticated ways of hacking into the operating systems of these unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs),” he comments.

When it comes to the risks associated with drone-jacking within the security sector, Higgins explains that these vary, ranging from the potential loss of highly confidential surveillance footage, to the destruction of property and even the loss of human lives.

“Travel in today’s volatile, politically charged global landscape is already fraught with multiple risks, and the advent of drone technologically adds another dimension to the security risk mix. 

“Although a relatively new concept, with the losses from reported drone-jacking cases being largely limited to the financial loss of the drone itself - which still comes with a hefty price tag, it is nevertheless a risk that all security and protective services organisations will need to incorporate into their risk mitigation strategies going forward,” he adds.

“Organisations that understand the importance of ensuring the safety, security and ultimately safe passage of their clients, expect their protective services provider to be on top of the latest technologies and trends.”

“As such, industry experts need to gain understanding and thorough insight into the implications of drone usage and what measures they can take to minimise it as a risk,” he says.

While front runners in the sector will perhaps - in time - invest in drone intelligence to stay better informed, Higgins highlights that the onus ultimately remains on drone owners to ensure that they invest in adequate cyber security measures.

“At the end of the day there is only so much we as a protective services firm can do to mitigate the risk of drone-jacking. We have no control over what security measures have been deployed to protect the overall operating system.”

“It really comes down to the cyber security sector ensuring it continually develops solutions that make attacks, not only more difficult - but also costly - to carry out,” he concludes.

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