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Dread of Drones: Are You Being Spied on By Drones?

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Imagine mysterious flying objects flying overhead made to resemble birds, flies, or bees? Drone technology is being spoken about more frequently, especially in the context of surveillance and unmanned military vehicles in warfare.

Drones are quickly gaining popularity for crucial rescue operations, last-mile logistics, videography, and photography, but they also have a dark side. Their use has been reported in corporate espionage, leaving 44% of the demographic of South African employees surveyed by Kaspersky, in fear of their privacy being breached.

Innovative Uses of Drone Technology

Innovative uses of drones include the transportation of organs needed for critical transplants. In 2021, a lung needed for a 63-year-old patient in Canada was transported with a remotely operated drone between two hospitals that were 2 kilometers apart in five minutes. According to an article about the event,  the trip was practiced in 2019, 400 times to ensure safe delivery.

Unmanned Aircraft Systems

Drones are generally defined as unmanned aircraft and more formally as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or unmanned aircraft systems.

They are essentially, flying robots that can be remotely controlled or fly autonomously using software-controlled flight plans in its embedded systems, that work in conjunction with onboard sensors and a global positioning system (GPS). Other modern uses of drones include traffic monitoring, weather monitoring, firefighting and in agriculture.

Bird’s Eye View

In photography, the use of drone technology has opened-up doors of opportunity for creatives to capture angles that would otherwise be highly-technical and challenging to capture without the use of a drone. Aerial view shots have enhanced the visual effects of advertisements, movies and photographs – offering a dynamic new perspective in the way we view the world.

Significant Price Drop

The pricing of drone technology designed for everyday use has also dropped significantly starting from as little as R2000.00 for a basic model with 4K HD camera. Some are even small enough to safely fly indoors in a room crowded with people.

Drones in Corporate Espionage

Although the use of drones for recreational, and creative use is positive recent statistics released by Kaspersky indicates the prominence of the use of drone technology for surveillance purposes and that South African employees are concerned about being surveyed. According to the results of a recent survey Business Digitisation conducted in the Middle East, Turkey, and Africa region, 44% of employees are afraid of drone spying.

“Our research showed that most business representatives understand the dangers of cyberespionage.  Getting information on the tactics, techniques and procedures used by cyber spies helps organisations adapt their defenses and develop countermeasures to thwart these tactics effectively,” comments Andrew Voges, General Manager for Africa, Kaspersky.

Hacking Sensitive Data

The results also indicate that corporate spies and hackers use drones to get trade secrets, confidential information, and other sensitive data from corporations and data centers.

A drone can carry a device for hacking into corporate networks – for instance, a smartphone, a compact computer, or a signal interceptor, and hackers use these devices to access corporate data and disrupt communications. All wireless communication (Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, RFID, etc.) is vulnerable to drone attacks.

Drones take cyberespionage to a whole new level, allowing for perpetrators to access data channels that a traditional off-site hacker could not obtain. In the survey, most often drone spy threat concerns were mentioned by survey respondents in the spheres of IT, manufacturing, and energy.

Fear in the Workplace

Overall, 75% of employees surveyed in South Africa fear cyberespionage within their industry. The most frequent concerns about espionage are that it could lead to organisations losing money (mentioned by 35% of respondents) and intellectual property (29%), as well as harming business reputation (17%).

Threat Intelligence in Countering Cyberespionage

Threat intelligence plays a crucial role in countering cyber espionage by providing actionable insights and proactive measures: continuously monitoring corporate IT systems for signs of espionage-related activities such as reconnaissance and data exfiltration and identifying threat actors.

It provides IP addresses, malware signatures, and patterns of behavior that enable cybersecurity teams to detect and block espionage-related attacks in real-time.

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