Vulnerabilities in UK Airspace Against Drone Threats

Thursday 31st May, 2018

In 2017, airspace security and drone detection emerged as a critical need for organizations and individuals to protect their physical and cyber infrastructure. Regulators around the world are racing to keep pace with drone innovation, security implications for militaries and corporations, and ensuring safe flying practices for hobby and commercial pilots.

Drone manufacturers and technologies have taken note of this gap between regulation and enforcement. This year, a draft bill is due to be introduced to the UK parliament, which would make registration for drone pilots mandatory, and give police greater powers when dealing with rogue UAVs. However, it’s not yet clear how this bill, if passed, would be enforced. Drone technology must be met with detection technology to ensure airspace security. Laws can be circumvented, but detection technology cannot.

The risk drones pose to the public and corporations is well documented, and no organization is immune to drone threats. In the UK, we’ve seen pilots dropping drugs and contraband into prisons, spying on our neighbors, and delaying football matches. Heathrow and Gatwick have experienced an influx of interruptions from unauthorized drones in their airspace, forcing runway closures, delaying their operations and putting lives at risk. In addition to the physical threat rogue drones pose, data centers and corporations are now bracing for hacker drones, and guarding themselves a new generation of spies, who can use drones as a tool to infiltrate vulnerable networks. Most alarmingly, a hobby pilot lost control of his drone, accidentally landing it on 70,000-tonne Queen Elizabeth, the biggest warship ever built for the Royal Navy, without being detected or intercepted.

In the UK and abroad, a game of cat-and-mouse is being played between governments and drone manufacturers, innovators and pilots. Legislators are reacting to new drone incidents and create laws to protect infrastructure and citizens. Drone manufacturers and governments will have to work with each other, and not against each other, to ensure pilots understand the risks of their flights and accept the legal consequences if they violate regulations.

By incorporating proactive drone detection technology into an existing security system, organisations and individuals are empowered and enabled to understand when their airspace is at risk. While drones are providing positive contributions to society such as through entertainment, search and rescue, and inspection, private and public companies must be willing to use counter drone technology to prevent losses and protect infrastructure and people.

Do you have complete airspace visibility to determine if you have a problem with Drones?

Please contact the KHIPU Team for a free of charge Drone Visibility and Threat report, which assesses your environment and provides a complete picture of drone activity including:

  • Drone Activity: How often, what type, repeat offenders
  • Drone Profile: Type, MAC Address, time in airspace, signal strength/proximity
  • High-level report showing drone activity

By understanding your airspace is the only way to determine if you have a problem and need to extend your physical and IT security into the airspace.