SkyJack: A Drone To Hack All Drones

Quadcopters are gradually becoming more affordable and thus more popular; we expect more kids will unwrap a prefab drone this holiday season than any year prior. [Samy’s] got plans for the drone-filled future. He could soon be the proud new owner of his own personal army now that he’s built a drone that assimilates others under his control.

The build uses a Parrot AR.Drone 2.0 to fly around with an attached Raspberry Pi, which uses everybody’s favorite Alfa adapter to poke around in promiscuous mode. If the SkyJack detects an IEEE-registered MAC address assigned to Parrot, aircrack-ng leaps into action sending deauthentication requests to the target drone, then attempts to take over control while the original owner is reconnecting. Any successfully lassoed drone doesn’t just fall out of the sky, though. [Samy] uses node-ar-drone to immediately send new instructions to the slave.

You can find all his code on GitHub, but make sure you see the video below, which gives a thorough overview and a brief demonstration. There are also a few other builds that strap a Raspberry Pi onto a quadcopter worth checking out; they could provide you with the inspiration you need to take to the skies.

24 thoughts on “SkyJack: A Drone To Hack All Drones

  1. As long as you define ‘all’ as being one specific make and model of drone that has absolutely nothing to do with the mentioned amazon delivery system.

    Also you do seem to be condoning theft of kids christmas presents. Is that a good message?

    1. 1. The title “a drone to hack all drones” is akin to saying “a war to end all wars” it’s suggesting it’s the biggest and best drone hack, rather than the rather literal way you’ve taken it.

      2. Amazon’s vaporware drones are not mentioned.

      3. He isn’t condoning the theft of kids christmas presents, simply states the possibility of this hack, what a person chooses to do with it, and judgement passed on that person isn’t mentioned, which is a pretty good description of a ‘hack’.

      Maybe you shouldn’t be reading this site.

      1. 1. a war to end all wars is literal, he could have said a drone hack to end all drone hacks but that wouldn’t have been very appropriate either. The hack doesn’t even hack more than one type of drone let alone all of them. Also its not particularly brilliant to use old wifi cracking tools to ‘hack’ a toy that is essentially a flying AP with barely any security in the first place. The title he has used is simply untrue and misleading.

        2. The 2nd word of the first paragraph of samys website is Amazon. His whole story is trying to cash in on their recent publicity and Hackaday has taken the bait.

        3. Its the glorifying tone that condones it, not the fact that it has been reported as possible.

        1. sorry he is you presumably. The saying a war to end all wars implies that a worse one has not come before or will again. If you think you are using a similar phrase then you would be claiming that no drone hack will ever best this which IMHO is highly unlikely or you didn’t quite understand the meaning of the phrase.

          1. That’s not me I’m afraid; my comments will always include a clickable name in green.

            As for content: it was a playful attempt to capture a playful resonance with “war to end all wars;” many of our titles here at Hackaday are an attempt to be clever. In this case, while “all drones” aren’t affected by this specific hack, it has an appropriate implication: if [Samy] kept working and added more MAC address blocks, he would easily expand the drones affected by this build.

            Approaching Amazon drones is another thing entirely, and I chose to leave them out of this post specifically because we don’t know enough about them and anything I said would be complete speculation. That said, I welcome anyone and everyone to talk about them and whether builds like [Samy’s] have implications for Amazon delivery drones.

            You’ll find I’m more careful than most when posting concerning potential legal gray areas or even vague implications of harassment. In this case I would assume readers are responsible enough to know whether it’s appropriate to interfere with another quadcopter and act accordingly. That I demonstrate a relationship between “there are more quadcopters” and “[Samy] can snag control of an entire fleet” should in no way indicate the advocation of anything.

            Your objects strike at the core definition of “What is a hacker?” and in this and every case we will always give the benefit of the doubt, seeing hacks as explorations and demonstrations of possibilities. I encourage you to do the same, and to take a look at the Hacking & Philosophy column and its comments for the long-winded “what is a hacker?” conversation.

    1. – I’m guessing they were just for a PR stunt, they’re not actually using them, are they? Between battery life and ‘the amazon drone just chopped up our plants / dog / kid by the door’ I have a hard time seeing it being feasible, at least the way it was advertised…

  2. One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne,
    In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.
    One Drone to rule them all, One Drone to find them,
    One Drone to bring them all and in the darkness bind them
    In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.

  3. Producers of drones do them thus as if consider that except their drone (in number of one piece) in air more anybody isn’t present. This delusion, in the same place there can be for example drones also made by them (in number of two pieces for example).
    Very cool hack.

      1. Sorry %)

        I mean – when producers of drones constructing the drones, they for some reason consider that their drones will be in air alone. This delusion. In air can be and other drones. For example one more just the same drone from the same manufacturer. And good thought will be to provide various situations concerning data exchange and drone control in this situation. Including possibility of interception of control.

        Something like this :)

  4. Hmm.
    “Borrow” a few of these and make the world’s largest DIY free air display like they did with the new Star Trek film.

    But this time have a microSD with preloaded content on each drone, RGBY 12W LEDs relying on air cooling from the rotors.


  5. Nice thought… Except “All drones” should be renamed “all Wi-Fi-controlled drones”… Most drones are NOT the Parrot, and thus do not depend on its unique Wi-Fi connection with a WiFi-connected device. Thus, no MAC address to hack and no functionality that air-crack will provide.

    Even if it were to hack, say, a REAL drone like the 3D Robotics branded drones.. Cameras are equipped (with live feed) , telemetry data is being recorded. I could be on the phone with authorities before you got my drone in your house. Have fun explaining your ‘hack’ to them.

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