Hacking Drones at DEFCON: “All Skyz Belong To Us”

Las Vegas, NV – This years DEFCON hacking conference featured a new village called “DroneWarz”, which focused on the research and development of offensive and defensive drone technologies. The Drone Hacking Village (DroneWarz) offered multiple hacking challenges, including more than twelve skill-based drone hacking challenges to explore unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) technology and improve “drone safety and operational responsibility in our occupied skyz.”

PWN-a-DRN was one challenge designed to compromise drones in flight through manipulation of control operations. In this challenge, hackers attacked drones using technology like the raspberrypi, arduinos, and radio frequency antennas, to disable fail-safe modes, flight controllers, and manipulate telemetry and flight control data. Some of the counter-drone technology being tested were conducted from mobile base stations, while others counter-measures were attached to autonomous aerial drones that would target other drones.

Another popular challenge, the Payloads Challenge, was designed to develop creative ways to deliver and retrieve items, such as using robotic claws and magnets attached to drones.

DroneWarz is a non-profit 501(c)6 whose programs are designed “primarily for research and education purposes with a focus on emerging UAV technologies.” The Drone Hacking Village started as part of the R00tz Asylum, another popular village at DEFCON, which is a non-profit dedicated to “teaching kids around the world how to love being white-hat hackers.” DroneWarz anticipates to grow exponentially at DEFCON in the coming years as UAV technology becomes more widely adopted.

Check out more stories about UAV technology from Unicorn Riot:

Hacking Drones With Ultrasonic Pulses at DEFCON

Law Enforcement Attack Private Drone as Water Protectors Erect Blockade


Written by Andrew Neef & Rachel Weiland

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