The White House was put on high alert today as a drone was flown at low altitude onto the south-east side of the complex. A secret service spokesperson said “An investigation is under way to determine the origin of this commercially available device, motive, and to identify suspects”. It’s been reported that the drone was a 2ft long quadcopter and wasn’t carrying a dangerous payload.
One reporter from The Associated Press tweeted:
More than a dozen agents searching WH north lawn, w/ flashlights into the bushes pic.twitter.com/iSdknDcBBK
— Nedra Pickler (@nedrapickler) January 26, 2015
While drones can pose a security threat if they get in the wrong hands, there are some simple ways to protect against the everyday off-the shelve drones that are available on the market. Two of the best ways to do this is ‘jamming’ or ‘hacking’ – which involves intercepting the control links from the operator and either taking control or disabling the device completely. Another possibility is interference with the drones GPS receiver unit, making it ‘think’ it is in a different location than it is. The final might be an actual intercept of the drone: you could possibly use another drone to do this, capturing any dangerous payload in the process.
An alternative is to bring tighter regulations that would require manufacturers to control for such threats by developing safety measures directly into the platforms. What today’s events illustrate is that we certainly must consider not just how to use drones, but how to protect against rogue drones too.
In the latest development, White House officials are reporting that a government employee has come forward to claim responsibility for the crash, saying that he lost control of the drone while flying it for recreational purposes. Follow more here, and on Twitter: