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Illegal ways that drones are getting used

Last updated on

June 23, 2018


    Stunning aerial shots, gathering necessary covert intelligence and receiving your Amazon order the very same day. There is no denying that drones and drone technology are very useful. They can be hugely beneficial to many industries in a number of different ways.

    As with anything, however, there is always the risk of technology being misused and abused by those with nefarious intentions. Unfortunately, drones are no different.

    This technology is now easier to access than ever before and is readily available to the public. This unfortunately also makes it accessible to those with malicious intent.

    It is important to be aware of the potential illegal uses of drones. It’s also important to recognise the techniques and equipment which exist to detect and prevent them from being used to cause damage.

    Here are some of the top ways in which drones are at risk of being used illegally:

    1. Prisons

    They may seem secure, but drones have ensured that prisons have now become more accessible than ever. There have been a number of reports of drones being used to smuggle contraband. This includes weapons, phones and drugs into prisons by being flown over the walls of the institution. Possibly even to the prisoners’ windows, like a bizarre delivery service.

    In addition, there is a risk that the drones, with advanced tracking and surveillance technology, are mapping and photographing the grounds and surroundings in order to formulate an escape plan.

    2. Terrorism

    Perhaps one of the most worrying potential misuses of drones is that of terrorism. Drones are small, light, and can carry loads and items. There is a genuine fear that they could be used by terrorist groups and organisations to drop chemicals, bombs or other weapons into crowded civilian areas. This could cause enormous devastation.

    3. Surveillance

    In their infancy, drones were most commonly used by military personnel and government officials to undertake surveillance. There is now a risk that the technology will be used to undertake illegal surveillance. Huge advancements in recording audio and visual content have contributed. There is also the ability to make drones smaller, therefore making them more easy to conceal.

    In an attempt to prevent copyright and theft of intellectual property, the FAA guidelines are clear on the fact that drones should not be flown over large crowds, stadiums or people. However, an intrusion of privacy is still very much an issue, and there is always a risk that drones could potentially access sensitive information by infiltrating conferences or meetings.

    4. Interference with planes

    There have been a number of reports of drones flying too close to commercial and drive aircraft, despite the rules which state that drones must not be flown within five miles of an airport, or above 400 feet unless the consent of air traffic control is obtained.

    The consequences of a drone being sucked into the engine of a place are catastrophic and could cause complete engine failure, therefore making this a very real risk and issue for aeroplanes around the world.

    5. Risk to emergency services

    This may seem an unlikely connection, but in this year alone there have been 13 wildfires in which the US Forest Service has reported drones interfering with firefighting aircraft. This is not only an unwanted distraction to first responders, but could also put lives at risk as it makes their job much more difficult.

    How can you combat negative use?

    The good news is that there are a number of steps which can be taken to combat these illegal uses of drones, as well as drone detection systems. This equipment, along with drone mitigation systems, also allows drones to be traced and monitored.

    Systems created by suppliers such as AeroScope offer the opportunity to intercept drones before they become a danger, and to locate the pilot, passing on this information to law enforcement where necessary. This ensures that drones continue to be used for the right reasons, as well as helping to reduce a huge amount of risk.

    Speak to the drone detection experts:

    Contact us or alternatively, call our friendly team on 0330 111 7177 to discuss your drone detection needs. Alternatively, contact us via email at if you’d prefer.

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