Dubai: A 13-year-old boy, known as ‘Cyber Ninja’, hacked into a drone and exposed the gaping holes in the security measures of millions of everyday gadgets and devices that are part of the Internet of Things (IoT).
The seventh grader, Reuben Paul, performed the hack at Kaspersky Lab’s annual Cyber Security Weekend 2019 in Cape Town, South Africa.
Paul demonstrated that he could disconnect a user from his drone and then take complete control of it by exploiting its insecure protocols. The drone hack was a controlled stunt organised by Kaspersky Lab to highlight the urgent need for stricter measures from companies developing IoT related-devices such as drones, baby monitors, smart appliances, smart home devices, and connected toys. The lab advises people to inquire about the security measures taken and to understand the associated risks before buying any connected device. While governments already have tight controls in place around devices such as drones, companies on the other hand, still need to take the security aspect more seriously.
“Many companies compete to get their connected products out to the market and the consumers at the fastest speed to start generating profit. But doing so often means they overlook the security features or even completely ignore the security issues,” said Maher Yamout, senior security researcher at the global research and analysis team at Kaspersky Lab.
He pointed out that such devices can become “lion’s meat” for hackers and if they fall prey, this could lead to invasion of privacy, loss of data, valuables and even life.
“It took me less than 10 minutes to hack the drone and I managed to take full control of it. The insecurities in the drone are shared by other IoT devices. Now imagine if this had been done by cyber-criminals. If I can do it, who’s not to say that more motivated cyber-criminals would not be able to do something very similar. The consequences could be disastrous.” said Paul.
He stressed on the need to reinvent cyber-security and the importance for manufacturers to implement security controls into their devices and not put consumers at risk.
“Let us be careful that the Internet of Things does not become the internet of threats,” said Paul.
There are around seven billion internetconnected devices in the world according to data from IoT analytics, with the cyber security risk remaining phenomenal. The impacts of these hacks are seen already, with multiple IoT related security incidents happening around the world.