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Drones: what’s the real threat?

Security By Helen Solimena, Senior Executive, Marketing and Business Development – 01 March 2019

Flying drone against a blurred sunset background

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Helen Solimena in flower top on white background with drawings

Helen Solimena

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In recent months we have seen the increased use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and the disruption and terror they can cause. But what are they? Known by military as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, but commonly they are known as Drones, they are used in situations deemed too risky or difficult for manned aircrafts.

Many of us, in the UK, can remember the headlines in December 2018, ‘Tens of thousands of passengers have been disrupted by drones flying over one of the UK's busiest airports’ BBC, 2018. ‘Gatwick returns to normality but drone threat remains’ Guardian, 2019. ‘Sussex Police appear no closer to solving the mystery of an incident that ruined the travel plans of more than 140,000 people’ Sky, 2018. It turns out that we still don’t have any real answers as to what happened just before Christmas, but it certainly shook the media and had a huge effect on people worldwide, but it has also made us more aware of Drones and the ‘unknown’ threat they could cause.

After doing a bit more research on this topic and working with our in-house Security team, I now understand how important it is to protect building and facilities against this new emerging technology. A simple google search of ‘drone attacks’ brings up stories with headlines such as ‘UK should prepare for use of drones in terrorist attacks, says thinktank’ Guardian, 2016. ‘Syria war: Russia thwarts drone attack on Hmeimim airbase’ BBC, 2018. ‘Flights at Dubai airport grounded due to drone attack’ Independent, 2019.

As we have seen, these attacks/sightings are about causing terror and disruption to normal life. By adding a simple sensor or weapon to the UAV, the potential threat can become much more sophisticated and dramatically increases the threat level. But just as serious, it could also include;

  • Hostile reconnaissance – collecting information about a site or facility, which then could be used to plan an attack.
  • Espionage – collecting information from a site that could reveal sensitive or classified
    information.
  • Physical attack – a terrorist seeking to use a UAV to mount an attack against a site (carrying a weapon, improvised explosive, chemical or biological device).
  • Digital information theft – use of a UAV to gain proximity and access to wireless
    devices and company networks.
  • Digital disruption – use of a UAV to gain proximity to networks to deploy malware.

But what can we do?

Cundall’s security team are experts on assessing the individual risks to clients and can analyse the existing risks being enhanced with the use of UAVs. Once these risks have been identified, the team can work with clients to provide a tailored solution to mitigate threats and increase general security of a building/facility.

If you would like further information on the above or have any specific questions, please don’t hesitate to contact Darren Wood.

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