Police drones can be hacked and stolen from 2km away by hijacking on-board chips

An IBM researcher has figured out how to easily hack into and hijack expensive drones used by police and security agencies from 2km away, and it’s all because of a lack of encryption.

IBM researcher Nills Rodday, who is based in Germany, has found a way to hack into $30,000 (£21,000) professional-grade quadcopters by exploiting the fact that on-board chips are not encrypted.

In order to control these drones and enable end-to-end wireless communication with the Android tablets used to control them, low-power XBee ZigBee RF chips are fitted to the unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV). But because the tablet doesn’t have an XBee chip in it, an intermediary relay telemetry box fitted with both XBee and Wi-Fi intercepts radio signals from the drone and then relays them to the Android tablet via Wi-Fi.

Although XBee chips support encryption, in practice, that function is not activated on the drones because it

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