Talk of drones that can hack air-gapped or isolated systems or devices has been going on for awhile.
Now, there is action, in the form of a 2018 patent request with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
The patent request is titled “METHOD AND SYSTEM FOR A SMALL UNMANNED AERIAL SYSTEM FOR DELIVERING ELECTRONIC WARFARE AND CYBER EFFECTS.”
Electronic warfare and cyber effects? Now that will get your attention, won’t it?
I just finished reviewing the patent request, and the drone sounds and looks like a flying wing-type design that can silently travel up to 150 mph when needed, but also reduce to a “loiter speed” near a target for at least 30 minutes.
The scenario listed is one where Surface to Air Missiles threaten U.S. Air operations during a battle. The unmanned drone would silently fly its way to a site where a Surface to Air Missile is setup, and potentially jam its signal or deliver a harmful cyber payload.
Will the drone have enough juice in its hydrogen battery to get back to where it was launched? It is designed to crash to the ground as a clean machine.
Says the patent request: “One benefit of this type of EW (electronic warfare) payload is its ability to self-sanitize after use, which allows it to delete data, codes, and other information at the end of flight. Accordingly, after a mission has been completed, the SUAS 10 may be crashed into a ground surface without fear of an enemy gaining data carried by the EW payload.”
This sounds like great technology if it’s on your side. But how long before hackers figure out something similar that can fly over open environments like refineries or dams?
The answer to that question is still up in the air.