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Amazon's non-existent drone delivery army ALREADY P0WNED

Cracker's command: Sudo bring me that other guy's parcel

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Weak ownership of the radio control in the world's most popular quadcopter means it's trivial to take ownership of any device within range, according to a neat bit of tinkering that points up yet another problem Amazon would have to solve if its “drone delivery” were ever tofly.

And how hard is it? Let's quote directly from the author, Samy Kamkar: “SkyJack is a perl application which runs off of a Linux machine, runs aircrack-ng in order to get its wifi card into monitor mode, detects all wireless networks and clients around, deactivates any clients connected to Parrot AR.drones, connects to the now free Parrot AR.Drone as its owner, then uses node.js with node-ar-drone to control zombie drones.”

Identifying the target drone is simple, because MAC addresses are registered to the company they're issued to: Parrot drones are therefore ID'd by their MAC.

The weak ownership of the device over radio is clear from the code. For example:

# now, disconnect the TRUE owner of the drone.

# sucker.

print "Disconnecting the true owner of the drone ;)\n\n";

sudo($aireplay, "-0", "3", "-a", $clients{$cli}, "-c", $cli, $interface);

Oh dear: the drones accept sudo commands from whatever radio it's accepted as its owner.* the drones can be made to accept a replacement "owner" as their radio set.

The rest of his takeover kit used:

  • A Parrot drone to act as the master;
  • A suitable computer (he uses a Raspberry Pi) as controller;
  • An Alfa AWUS036H wireless transmitter; and
  • Software – aircrack-ng, node-ar-drone, node.js and Kamkar's SkyJack software.

He notes, however, that your own drone isn't necessary, since the setup works just fine from the ground.

“The Parrots actually launch their own wireless network which is how the owner of the drone connects. We take over by deauthenticating the owner, then connecting now that the drone is waiting for its owner to connect back in, exploiting the fact that we destroyed their wireless connection temporarily.”

While not immediately a threat to Amazon's model, since the security of today's air interface is nowhere near as important as the economic model, GPS accuracy, limited range, regulation, and paranoid Americans with guns, the project is also interesting because Kamkar seems to have been able to knock up the system in fairly short order. ®

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Correction:

A reader has pointed out an egregious error on my part. In the code snippet posted above, I mistakenly assumed the attacker's computer was issuing sudo commands to the target, when in fact these were sudos to the local machine.

The insecurity is simpler: once the attacker's radio is in charge, it's treated as the owner of the drone, no sudo required.

Thanks to the reader who pointed this out. As Rex Stout's character Nero Wolfe put it: “On the contrary, Archie, I love to make a mistake. It's my only assurance that I can not reasonably be expected to assume the burdens of omniscience.” ®

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

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