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The Safety and Security of Drones

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The topic I have chosen is about drones. The safety and security of drones is very important as they can cause negative implications if used incorrectly. It is a very delicate piece of technology created and has positive and negative features. What is a drone? A drone is a small aircraft without a physical pilot abroad. The aircraft is controlled by a human operating from a remote control. Drones have grown massively in the past couple of years and have advanced and developed substantially from when they were first introduced. Drones are very useful for society but at the same time they can cause detrimental issues if not used the right way. In this literature review I will be reviewing papers that I have found and giving a detailed analysis on what they say about the safety and security of drones.

Safety of Drones

Drones are a valuable piece of technology and if used correctly it can have a great benefit to society. It can provide many services such as internet access to rural areas where networks are not covered. They can also be used by ambulance and medicinal services where drones can be flown to deliver medicine and emergency response equipment to patience in areas which are hard to reach. This method of transport is very useful because in some situations patients will require urgent assistance and this is the only fastest way possible to get urgent aid to them. Drones are also used by filmmakers to carry out aerial filming for movies and many other creative projects. The ultra-high-definition cameras attached to drone capture views from all angles giving the end user a real-life experience. Drones are also being used in disaster control and assessing natural disaster since Hurricane Katrina back in 2005. Drones come very handy in situations such as hurricanes, tsunamis, tornadoes etc. because roads can be blocked for emergency service vehicles to access (Riham Altawy et al., 2016).

Currently drones are used by hobbyists for fun, to enjoy and most importantly to discover new things. However big companies such as Amazon, Google, Facebook and other huge companies are now looking at alternative and quicker delivery options and using drones are one of them, yet the problem that is causing this to roll out and be in full effect is interference with aviation system due to safety and security (Riham Altawy et al. 2016).

Threat of Drones

It is crucial to understand how drones pose a threat to public safety and security. Drones are very useful in many ways such as communication and coordination, deliveries, high-definition video recording, assistant in search operations and many more useful ways. With the pros comes the cons and looking back at recent events such as the Gatwick and Heathrow airport incidents, you can see the catastrophes it can cause and what threats they hold if used incorrectly. Collisions to any aircraft with an object is very dangerous and destroy an aircraft completely and cause serious harm to passengers. It’s reported by The Guardian the near misses between drones and aircraft rate in UK has tripled since 2015 and the rate is increasing yearly as drones become more and more part of society. Although flying a drone illegally carries a custodial sentence of 5 years, nobody seems to care as it is very difficult to track down the perpetrators (Alex Hern et al., 2019).

It can be argued that drones are very dangerous and have no use in society due to the vast negative implication they have to people around us. Regulations have been put in place but not everyone follows the law set out and this is where the problem begins. It is against the law to fly a drone higher than 120 meters and you are to fly nowhere near an airport. Incidents such as Gatwick and Heathrow can hold detrimental consequences due to all operations coming to a stop costing millions of pounds. An incident which took place last year over the Christmas period had a massive negative impact on Gatwick Airport. The chaos affecting approximately 140,000 passengers as more than 800 flights where grounded costing millions of pounds (Topham Gwyn et al., 2018).

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Safety Advantages

It can be argued that drones are safe because they come with many safety features such as alerts which warn altitude and geofencing which is a feature that sets a fence where the system allows the drone to fly a certain airspace only. All these features come inbuilt to the drone. However, these features can be overridden for the user to misuse the aircraft. The security of drones can be debatable how strong they are as breaking geo fencing restrictions to fly a drone is very easy. China’s leading manufacture of drones DJI, operates GPS powered ‘restricted zones’, which doesn’t allow flying over hot spots such as airports and other private restricted areas. However, flying to these areas can be unlocked for users by big companies such as CopterSafe, who charge you and unlock areas which you can’t access following successful authorization (Altigator, 2019).

Security Challenges

Drones take part in a lot of security threats operations carries out by individuals or ‘gangs’ and many attacks have taken place in the past due to them. They are mainly used to spy, steal data, surveillance, harassment and mainly to cause harm to a victim(s). An example of a security threat is WIFI attacks. Hackers can fly drones to office buildings, universities, hospitals and other important buildings which hold confidential information and hack into their WIFI and Bluetooth connections and intercept information. Francis Brown, who is a partner at cyber security consulting firm Bishop Fox, said that drones can be made in such a way that it can be implemented as a flying laptop. Which means everything a laptop can do a small drone smaller than a football can do as well.

Drones target open WIFI’s and Bluetooth devices such as keyboards. They can access the internal network of an organizations gaining access to all shared drives and private drives where confidential information is kept. They can also record keystrokes which allows hackers to see input of login details, confidential letter type ups and so much more (Hannah Kuchler, 2019).

Other ways drones are involved in security threats is GPS spoofing. GPS spoofing is a way to trick a device that receives signals by broadcasting wrong GPS signals. It is mainly used to impersonate another device to carry out attacks on the network, steal personal data, create malware and to bypass access. How this works is an authorized user has WIFI link with the drone, now to start the attack an unauthorized user who is the attacker disconnects that WIFI link and reconnects with the drones and then controls it. All this is done without the victim knowing or even having a clue what’s going on (He Daojing et al., 2017).


Drones have significant privacy consequences because flying drones can invade people’s privacy and be a nuisance to people and building around the city as their rotors are very loud. Drones that come with a camera can capture a person’s face, their location, how they behave, what they do, where they go and who they associate themselves with. This can be dangerous to a life and have many negative implications as you no privacy. You can’t do anything and you have to be very careful with what you do as your being watched wherever you go. Especially if you deal with work that is of high security and important data which can’t get out so attackers try to spy on you, trying looking to find loopholes which they can get in to (Rachel L. et al., 2016).


By identifying the gaps and knowledge which I would like to find out and tackle is prevention of attacks and threats. There are many ways where researchers and developers of drones can look into to prevent potential security and privacy issues. Some of these can be early intrusion and detection facilities, securing data aggregation, data encryption, changing passwords frequently and most importantly not accessing untrusted sites and malicious emails (Lin Chao et al., 2018). Some ways I might be able to investigate these gaps are looking into how these preventions can be put in by organizations and also looking at loopholes, attackers use to carry out these attacks.


  1. Hern, Alex, and Gwyn Topham. ‘How Dangerous Are Drones to Aircraft?’ The Guardian, 20 Dec. 2018., Accessed 27 Apr. 2019.
  2. ‘Drone Security Features - AltiGator’. AltiGator Drone & UAV Technologies, Accessed 27 Apr. 2019.
  3. Kuchler, Hannah. ‘Cyber Experts Warn of Hacking Capability of Drones’. Financial Times, 31 July 2016, Accessed 28 Apr. 2019.
  4. Topham Gwyn, and Frances Frances. Two Arrested as Gatwick Reopens Following Latest Drone Sighting. Accessed 29 Apr. 2019.
  5. Altawy, Riham, and Amr M. Youssef. ‘Security, Privacy, and Safety Aspects of Civilian Drones: A Survey’. ACM Transactions on Cyber-Physical Systems, vol. 1, no. 2, Nov. 2016, pp. 1–25. Crossref, doi:10.1145/3001836.
  6. He Daojing, et al. ‘Drone-Assisted Public Safety Networks: The Security Aspect’. IEEE Communications Magazine, vol. 55, no. 8, Aug. 2017, pp. 218–23. IEEE Xplore, doi:10.1109/MCOM.2017.1600799CM.
  7. Lin Chao, et al. ‘Security and Privacy for the Internet of Drones: Challenges and Solutions’. IEEE Communications Magazine, vol. 56, no. 1, Jan. 2018, pp. 64–69. IEEE Xplore, doi:10.1109/MCOM.2017.1700390.
  8. Rachel L. Finn, and David Wright. ‘Privacy, Data Protection and Ethics for Civil Drone Practice: A Survey of Industry, Regulators and Civil Society Organizations’. Computer Law & Security Review, vol. 32, issue 4, Aug. 2016, pp. 577–86. Accessed 2019-04-29
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