Amazon opens civilian use of drones, I hack them

Pierluigi Paganini December 09, 2013

Amazon announced the use of unmanned drones for Civilian purposes, Samy Kamkar has demonstrated how to build your UAV “Killer drone” to hijack them.

Amazon company, the world’s largest online retailer, has recently announced that it is testing unmanned drones to deliver products ordered by the customers, the service could take up to five years to start.

The drones, called Octocopters, deployed by Amazon is able to deliver packages weighing up to 2.3kg to customers within 30 minutes of them placing the order according Chief Executive Jeff Bezos.


“We can do half-hour delivery… and we can carry objects, we think, up to five pounds (2.3kg), which covers 86% of the items that we deliver.” said Bezos.

The Amazon is just one of the company that will use drones for civilian purposes, The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has approved the use of unmanned vehicles for police and government agencies, issuing about 1,400 permits over the past several years and it will authorize civilian air space use by 2015, in Europe the use of drones for civilian use is expected to start by 2016.

The use of drones has serious repercussion on the security perspective, there is the concrete risks that cybercriminals and cyber terrorists could hack these devices harming the population.

The scenario is scaring, thousand of drones will fly on our heads to provide numerous services and collecting a huge quantity of information, it is easy to predict that they will become a privileged target for hackers.

Thinking to drones hacking it is easy to remember the name of Samy Kamkar, the hacker who designed the Samy worm that was designed to propagate across the MySpace social-networking site.

Samy Kamkar on his website published a post on a software, dubbed SkyJack, designed by the hacker to allow an attacker to gain the control over a drone while it’s still flying.

Samy Kamkar  defined its software the “Zombie drone” in the video is posted on YouTube, the application runs on a Parrot AR.Drone 2 and scans for other drones’ wireless signals during the flight.

drones Parrot UAV

Once it has found other drones nearby Zombie drone interferes with target drone wireless connection to disconnect it from its control center, then takes the operator’s place. In the attack scenario the hacker can obtain the complete control of the drone.



Kamkar detailed all the necessary hardware and software specs to create its Killer drone, theoretically anyone can create an its UAV to hunt down other drones and control them.

SkyJack is based on a Raspberry Pi , the overall project includes a Parrot AR.Drone quadcopter, a small battery and two wireless transmitters.

“Using a Parrot AR.Drone 2, a Raspberry Pi, a USB battery, an Alfa AWUS036H wireless transmitter, aircrack-ng, node-ar-drone, node.js, and my SkyJack software, I developed a drone that flies around, seeks the wireless signal of any other drone in the area, forcefully disconnects the wireless connection of the true owner of the target drone, then authenticates with the target drone pretending to be its owner, then feeds commands to it and all other possessed zombie drones at my will.”

The logical evolution of the attack scenario is the design of a version of SkyJack that runs on grounded Linux machines that is able to hack drones within radio range.

SkyJack also works when grounded as well, no drone is necessary on your end for it to work. You can simply run it from your own Linux machine/Raspberry Pi/laptop/etc and jack drones straight out of the sky.”

Resuming … welcome to the use of drones for civilian purposes by withe security by design as a fundamental requirement.

Pierluigi Paganini

(Security Affairs –  Drones, hacking)

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