The security and privacy implications of drones

Drones are drastically transforming a variety of industries today, but they could give rise to a range of privacy and security risks.
Written by Forrester Research, Contributor

Over the past few years, drones have transitioned from military-only applications into a strategic asset that is transforming a range of industries such as construction, real estate, insurance, and agriculture. Yet while drones introduce a range of use cases, the growth of drones also represents a new physical threat that demands the attention of security and risk pros.

The risks from drones can range from threat actors using their own drones for malicious purposes to amateur hobbyists inadvertently crashing drones near commercial buildings as well as corporate use of drones that may run afoul of applicable laws and regulations, any of which can lead to business disruption. And as we saw with the rogue drone operations at Gatwick Airport in December 2018, finding and stopping rogue drone activity can be very challenging.

Drones also introduce a range of new issues around privacy and surveillance. While the passage of GDPR has made it harder to legally fly drones in private areas in Europe, the US remains a patchwork of local and state laws, which has made enforcement challenging. Given that there are eight times more drones than private aircraft in the US, drone regulations are likely to continue to evolve.

All of this means that organizations need to prepare themselves on how to operate in a drone-centric world, whether or not your organization intends to use drones for commercial purposes. This requires assessing the evolving drone regulatory and threat environment and leveraging a privacy-by-design approach to any commercial drone application.

The reality is that continued demand for drones will drive significantly more drone innovation, leading to drones with increased payload capabilities, longer battery life, and the ability to operate with greater stealth. And as the number of drones in operation increases, we can also expect more drone-related incidents and disruptions, be they accidental or deliberate.

Lest people think drones are purely an airborne threat, the rise of underwater drones should not go unnoticed. While these are less intrusive and visible than airborne drones, they also introduce new attack scenarios such as cutting, disrupting, or tapping communication cables, something that was done successfully by the US during the height of the Cold War.

To learn more about the growing security risks posed by drones, please read my latest report, Protect Your Firm From Drones, which is available here. This report outlines the physical security ramifications of this drone-centric world and how security professionals should prepare their organizations for managing it.

Download Forrester's complimentary guide to learn how and why Zero Trust is the best way to defend your business.

--By Merritt Maxim, Principal Analyst

This post originally appeared here.

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