Chief Security Officers (CSOs) have lots of responsibilities, especially as the company they’re protecting gets larger and more complex in operations. Cyber security, physical security, travel security for employees and executives; and now, drone security. This is an emerging issue, like most things in the drone industry, and it’s becoming a very serious concern very quickly.
In many conflict areas overseas, small, consumer-grade drones have already been used to carry IEDs. Here in the US, drones have been used to drop cell phones and drugs into prisons, and undoubtedly, have been used to spy on various locales.
First, it’s important to understand the threat. Drones are available at every big-box store and online retailer, so they are not hard to come by. All of these aircraft operate on some type of WiFi frequency – typically 2.4GhZ or 5.8GhZ, and most have cameras. Most carry lithium polymer batteries, which themselves can be used as incendiary devices. As well as, most medium-sized drones have some lifting capability. Defeating these drones can be a difficult road, fraught with legal landmines. Interrupting the wireless signal between drone and controller is one popular way to defeat these aircrafts, but doing so is considered an FCC violation.
Taking them down physically, either with bullets, nets or even birds of prey is possible, but it’s considered an FAA violation.
In fact, the FAA considers drones aircraft, so taking down a drone is akin to taking down a 747, albeit with several hundred people aboard.
The short answer is — right now, you can’t. You can passively detect, so you’re at least aware of the threat; but only the Department of Justice in the US has the authority to take down drones. The Department of Defense also has the authority to take down an aircraft within the boundaries of their airspace.
Detection systems range in technology from signal detection. For example, The DJI Aeroscope, available from our friends at Aerial Armor detects the presence of DJI drones. It also shows you the location of the aircraft, the operator, and the set home point. The limitation here is, it only detects DJI drones, and drones using DJI flight controllers. However that does represent a very large majority of what’s on the market.
Radar detects the physical presence of an object in a said airspace, as well as sound detection equipment. This detection system can hear the signature buzz of the drone, and alert you to its presence. But again, while you can detect their presence, you cannot currently mitigate the threat. There is a lot of work being done at the federal level to develop possible pathways for private industry, local and state agencies to mitigate drones. This is especially prominent in places like prisons and major league sports stadiums. For today, understanding the threat, the technology, and what you can and can’t do about it is key.
Finally, it’s important to understand that drones can be a very important part of your proactive security plans. Drones are an incredibly powerful tool to use on offensive security; from perimeter sweeps to thermal detection, pre-incident planning and video surveillance of your facilities.