This DIY Device Lets You Hijack Drones In Mid-Air

A tutorial shows how a Parrot drone can be hacked over unprotected Wi-Fi

Parrot AR Drone 2.0 In Flight

Parrot AR Drone 2.0 In Flight

Parrot AR Drone 2.0 In FlightNicolas Halftermeyer, via Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 3.0

Cheap consumer drones are really just little computers on wings. It makes sense, then, that all it takes to disable one is another cheap computer, a wi-fi connection, and some technical know-how. Brent Chapman, an Army Cyber Warfare officer, already made a tool that remotely shuts off Parrot drones. Now, at Make, he's made a full tutorial for people to make their own anti-drone kit.

To follow Chapman’s instructions, a person will need a Parrot AR Quadcopter 2.0, which runs about $200 new and can be found online and used for less. Then they’ll need a Raspberry Pi computer, which start at around $25.

Here’s how it works, from Chapman:

The AR.Drone 2.0 creates an access point that the user can connect to via a smartphone. The access point that it creates is named ardrone2_ followed by a random number. This access point by default is open and offers no authentication or encryption. Once a user connects the device to the access point, he or she can launch the app to begin control of the drone. This process, though convenient for the user, makes it easy to take control of the drone. The AR.Drone 2.0 is so hackable, in fact, that there are communities and competitions focused on modifying this particular drone.

The step-by-step guide seems pretty intuitive, with both the mechanical assembly and coding spelled out. The vulnerability, it seems, would be easy for dronemakers Parrot to correct, if they so desired: simply add encryption or authorization to the system.