New Data Center Security Threats: An Overview of the Hacking Capabilities of Drones
Science fiction movies have always captured the imagination, illustrating a vision of the future that includes extraordinary technology. Advances in this area have brought some of these movie creations to life, including Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), more commonly referred to as drones. The capabilities of drones are still being tested, but it is possible that they will change how many tasks are done, from photography to pizza delivery – and everything in between. Unfortunately, this technology is not without risk. Some experts are examining whether and how drones can be used to hack data centers, gaining access to massive amounts of highly confidential information.
Corporate Espionage in the Age of Drones
Today, there are skilled technology specialists who can modify drones to create the equivalent of “a laptop that can fly,” as one cybersecurity expert put it. Unfortunately, some of those specialists are not concerned with keeping their activities legal. With the modified drones, cybercriminals can cruise by corporate offices and intercept communications or attack WiFi, wireless and Bluetooth connections to steal data. One researcher pointed out that the risk of industrial espionage is extremely high, as a corporate spy could simply land a specially outfitted drone on the roof of a building, then record the keystrokes of individuals inside. From there, it would be a simple matter to access the internal network. Drones can discretely spy in other ways, for example, by carrying an onboard camera and transmitter that streams images to users up to three miles away.
At Ben-Gurion's University cybersecurity lab has created a way to bypass security protection known as an “air gap,” the safeguard of separating highly sensitive computer systems from the internet to quarantine them from hackers.If an attacker can plant malware on one of those systems—say, by paying an insider to infect it via USB or SD card—this approach offers a new way to rapidly pull secrets out of that isolated machine. Every blink of its hard drive LED indicator can spill sensitive information to any spy with a line of sight to the target computer, whether from a drone outside the window or a telescopic lens from the next roof over. See actual video below
Potential sabotage of data centers is a significant concern for companies of every size – and in every industry. However, a majority do not feel prepared to mitigate the threat. Some IT specialists note that drones are capable of interfering with computers or disrupting power supplies which could – at best – lead to data loss. At worst, all of the stored information becomes vulnerable to theft. These system malfunctions and server failures have the potential to cripple impacted businesses. For example, financial damages, including losses by customers, diminish brand image and prompt a loss of client confidence.
Drones are enabling new avenues for corporate spies, hackers and terrorists, who can use drones to carry payloads of any kind. Forward-thinking businesses are taking steps now to counteract this threat, ensuring that networks remain secure and data center operations continue uninterrupted. Advanced drone detection and alerts, as well as careful compliance with FAA policies and procedures, are important first steps. Services like those offered by Airsight include tools specifically designed to counter drone-related threats.