Non-kinetic counter-drone measures work by interrupting or intercepting communication signals. These methods usually end with the drone falling to the ground at considerable speeds making it an undesirable countermeasure to use over crowds. While it may not be appropriate to use over crowds, it could be useful in other environments. Always check with your country’s laws when considering drone countermeasures, drone jammers and drone spoofers are not legal in the US. Let’s look at some of the different non-kinetic c-uas methods.
What is a drone jammer?
Jammers work by blasting electromagnetic noise at the radio frequencies that drones use to operate and emit information. Effectively, they drown out the conversation between a drone and its operator. This is usually either 2.4Ghz or 5.8Ghz, which are non-assigned, public frequencies. This prevents jammers from interfering with manned aircraft, cell phones, public broadcasts, or other dedicated radio bands.
Jammers can either be stationary, mounted devices, or built into highly mobile, gun-like devices to allow someone to land the drone on the ground safely.
What happens to a drone after it's jammed?
- The drone will land or,
- The drone will return to its home location
What are the disadvantages of drone jamming?
Jammers have five major disadvantages as C-UAS:
- Drone jammers are illegal in most countries, including the US.
- Drone jammers are less effective against drones that have been pre-programmed to fly a certain path, since drones can fly without GPS.
- Drone jammers do not allow the C-UAS to achieve positive control over its targets.
- Drone jammers do not locate the pilot or flightpath
- Drone jammers disrupt other nearby communication signals such as cellphones and could prevent 9-1-1 calls in the event of a real attack.
Are drone jammers legal?
Drone jammers are not legal in the US per FCC regulations.
"The use of "cell jammers" or similar devices designed to intentionally block, jam, or interfere with authorized radio communications (signal blockers, GPS jammers, or text stoppers, etc.) is a violation of federal law. These devices pose serious risks to critical public safety communications, and can prevent you and others from making 9-1-1 and other emergency calls. Jammers can also interfere with law enforcement communications.
Operation of a jammer in the United States may subject you to substantial monetary penalties, seizure of the unlawful equipment, and criminal sanctions including imprisonment.
"The Communications Act of 1934
- Section 301 - requires persons operating or using radio transmitters to be licensed or authorized under the Commission’s rules (47 U.S.C. § 301
- Section 333 - prohibits willful or malicious interference with the radio communications of any station licensed or authorized under the Act or operated by the U.S. Government (47 U.S.C. § 333)"
Drone GPS Spoofers
What is a drone spoofer?
While jammers work by blocking RF frequencies, spoofers send fake GPS signals that mimic legitimate ones. Spoofers hijack a drone's communication link by emitting a counterfeit signal that the device reads as valid because it is a copy of the real signal.
The spoofer works by emitting a stronger counterfeit signal. The spoofer can cause a small delay between drone and controller; then, the spoofer emits the stronger false signal. The spoofer now has control over the device and can pilot the drone. The spoofer deceives the GPS receiver
GPS spoofing is hard to defend against if your UAS device is using GPS for flight. GPS is a signal broadcasted from satellites. You can't add standard protections tools such as encryption and certificates to GPS satellite signals.
What happens to a spoofed drone?
- Direct the flight; you are now the pilot
- Access any data on the drone, including the camera feed and historical flight data
Disadvantage to using a spoofer to counter a drone?
Spoofer have four major disadvantages as C-UAS:
- Drone spoofers are illegal in most countries, including the US.
- Drone spoofers are less effective against drones not using GPS.
- Drone spoofers do not locate the pilot or flightpath.
- Drone jammers disrupt other nearby GPS signals making it difficult for authorities to use GPS devices in the event of a real emergency.
Are GPS spoofers legal in the US?
No, GPS spoofing devices are illegal in the United States.