The zombies are coming. A hacker has shown how easy it is to use one drone to hijack another, allowing someone else to take control of its flight.
The SkyJack software written by programmer Samy Kamkar runs on an open-source Raspberry Pi computer that controls a drone that sniffs out the Wi-Fi control signals of other fliers when it gets close enough. It severs their wireless connection and establishes itself as the controller – allowing people to make other drones do their bidding.
It effectively turns drones into “zombies”, says Kamkar, who has made the code freely available on the GitHub online repository. The simple tricks that Kamkar played to perform his drone heist will concern makers and users of the hobbyist-level drones that this works on.
Divide and conquer
First, he looked for the hardware MAC addresses for drones. A MAC address is the media access control address, a code that uniquely identifies, in this case, each drone made by Parrot, the France-based maker of the popular AR Drone 2.0 quadcopterMovie Camera. Then his code sniffs for local Wi-Fi signals that are connecting to any of those MAC addresses.