Pwn the Drones: A Survey of UAV Hacks and Exploits

Presented at HOPE Number Nine (2012), July 14, 2012, 4 p.m. (60 minutes)

Drones are no longer a scary possible future of surveillance and remote force - they’re here. Internationally, drones are being deployed for military action and observation. At home, police departments, border patrols, and others are acquiring UAVs and developing programs to fly them; there’s even talk about adding “less lethal” arms to these domestic drones. Think Tasers and rubber bullets shot from the sky. But a series of alarming events over the past few years have demonstrated that many of these unmanned vehicles are dangerously vulnerable to exploits, leading to intercepted data, flight failures, and even remote takeovers. In this talk, Parker and Trevor will explain the privacy and security implications of some of the most sensational drone exploits and the weaknesses that enabled them. They’ll also go over the work of communities and individuals that have been hacking drones from scratch, and what their efforts mean for our future understanding and regulation of drones.


  • Trevor Timm
    Trevor Timm is an activist and blogger at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, where he specializes in free speech, privacy, and government transparency. Along with Parker Higgins, he also operates the @drones Twitter feed.
  • Parker Higgins
    Parker Higgins is an activist and blogger at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, focusing on issues around privacy, freedom of speech, and intellectual property. Along with Trevor Timm, he operates the @drones Twitter feed.


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