Watching the Watchers: Are You The Star Of an Encrypted Drone Video Stream?

Small aircraft with streaming video cameras are now widely available, for better or worse. Making eyes in the sky so accessible has resulted in interesting footage that would have been prohibitively expensive to capture a few years ago, but this new creative frontier also has a dark side when used to violate privacy. Those who are covering their tracks by encrypting their video transmission should know researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev demonstrated such protection can be breached.

The BGU team proved that a side-channel analysis can be done against behavior common to video compression algorithms, as certain changes in video input would result in detectable bitrate changes to the output stream. By controlling a target’s visual appearance to trigger these changes, a correlating change in bandwidth consumption would reveal the target’s presence in an encrypted video stream.

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Radio Jamming Rifle Claimed to Disable Drones

[Battelle], an Ohio-based non-profit R&D firm has just unveiled a device they call the DroneDefender — a long-range anti-drone defense weapon. It almost sounds like they’ve brought the fictional drone hunter’s RF cannon to life. But does it really work?

According to the site, it uses radio frequency disruption to blast unwanted drones out of the sky. Cool concept, but does it actually work? Unlike the hackable MAVLink protocol used by Parrot AR, ArduPilot and a handful of other consumer drones, this weapon uses brute radio signal force to disable any(?) consumer drone.

There’s a video after the break demonstrating a simulated use of the technology, which leaves us a bit confused. They show the drone slowly landing all nicely after being “guided” down by the rifle. If the system is jamming both GPS and the 2.4 GHz control link, the behavior will all depend on the software loaded on the drone. Some will go to a fail-safe mode, which is low throttle or motor power off, assuming the pilot has set fail-safe. Others may attempt to loiter on IMU sensors only.

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