A recent study by engineering graduate students at Johns Hopkins University revealed how to hack a drone’s flight control by sending rogue commands. The researchers were able to force a drone to crash or land by sending the wrong digital packets. The drone’s owner was notified that it had been compromised, but the researchers still haven’t received any response from the maker. In a separate study, Watkins and his colleagues found ways to crash drones with rouge commands.
The DSMx protocol is vulnerable to these attacks because it does not encrypt the secret key, making it easy for attackers to intercept and send malicious packets to the drone. Once the attacker has hijacked the drone, the pilot will receive all commands from the attacker. Unfortunately, this bug affects only the DJI Phantom and DJI drones. Luckily, most manufacturers are fixing the problem and issuing patches and updated hardware to fix the issue.