During the experiment at the University of Texas at Austin’s Radio navigation Laboratory, Professor Todd Humphreys and his team successfully hijacked a drone by “spoofing” its GPS receiver.
Humphreys says that Iran’s success in bringing down a US spy drone last December gave him the idea of doing the experiment.
“So we decided to conduct the experiment, which showed us that it’s possible to take control of a flying drone,” Humphrey said.
Humphreys says that unlike military UAVs, which use an encrypted GPS system, most drones that will fly over the US will rely on civilian GPS, which is not encrypted and wide open to infiltration.
This is while many private companies in the US are planning to use unmanned aircraft for commercial proposes.
However, there have been limited researches about the drones in the US, due to its high cost.
Unlike GPS jammers that can only muddle signals, spoofers can actually manipulate navigation computers with false information that looks real and send new commands to the onboard computer.
Spoofing is a technique where the drone mistakes the signal from hackers for the one sent from GPS satellites.
Pointing out that the US drone brought down by Iran was probably using a military encrypted GPS, Humphreys said that there are many unanswered questions on how Iranians could capture the drone.
Washington has carried out assassination attacks using the unmanned aircraft in other countries including Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan, and Yemen.
There have been many arguments regarding the use of drones by the US government both internally and internationally.
In addition to the US, Israel has also been manufacturing drones.