Video killed the radio star, but drones may bring them back. Ok, I’m being a bit hyperbolic and I got excited because I got to drop a reference to one of my favorite 80s songs (which was really done in the late 70s, but never mind that detail…let’s get back to the drones).
It seems that the use of a radio can actually help you discover if a drone is stalking you or not. The breakthrough came from a team out of a University in Israel.
Researchers at Ben Gurion University in Beer Sheva, Israel have built a proof-of-concept system for counter-surveillance against spy drones that demonstrates a clever, if not exactly simple, way to determine whether a certain person or object is under aerial surveillance. They first generate a recognizable pattern on whatever subject—a window, say—someone might want to guard from potential surveillance. Then they remotely intercept a drone’s radio signals to look for that pattern in the streaming video the drone sends back to its operator. If they spot it, they can determine that the drone is looking at their subject.
In other words, they can see what the drone sees, pulling out their recognizable pattern from the radio signal, even without breaking the drone’s encrypted video.
“This is the first method to tell what is being captured in a drone’s [first-person-view] channel” despite that encryption, says Ben Nassi, one of the Ben Gurion researchers who wrote a paper on the technique, along with a group that includes legendary cryptographer and co-inventor of the RSA encryption algorithm Adi Shamir. “You can observe without any doubt that someone is watching. If you can control the stimulus and intercept the traffic as well, you can fully understand whether a specific object is being streamed.”