Professor Todd Humphreys and his team at the University of Texas at Austin have successfully taken control of a civilian aerial drone using GPS spoofing. His technique uses a miniature helicopter that overpowers the drones' GPS system and then feeds it alternate coordinates, giving him control over its destination.
This isn't the first aerial drone security vulnerability to be identified — GPS jammers, which can be easily purchased online, can confuse a drone's onboard computer, forcing it to land immediately. While signal jamming is effective in all types of drones, this spoofing technique can only be used on civilian drones with unencrypted GPS systems.
Humphreys' research at UTA suggests several ways to harden the defenses of unmanned drones, but his talk with Fox News was highly theoretical and somewhat paranoid. After pondering FedEx founder Fred Smith's desire for drones that transport packages, Humphrey's asks "What if you could take down one of these drones delivering FedEx packages and use that as your missile? That's the same mentality the 9-11 attackers had."