Researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) and the Weizmann Institute of Science have introduced a new technique to detect a drone camera illicitly capturing video.
The research comes as increased issues regarding privacy and safety are being raised as the result of the proliferation of flying drones. The project demonstrates how simple techniques for detecting drone cameras recording a subject or a house can be used with only a laptop and an object that flickers.
“While it has been possible to detect a drone, now someone can also tell if it is recording a video of your location or something else,” said Ben Nassi, a student in the BGU Department of Software and Information Systems Engineering and a researcher at the BGU Cyber Security Research Center (CSRC).
In the video demonstration, researchers show how a privacy invasion against a house can be detected using a smart film placed on a window and a few software commands on a laptop to access the encrypted video the drone operator sees, called the FPB channel. This was able to detect a DJI Mavic drone to capture images of his own home and neighbor’s house.
In a second test, researchers used a light emitting diode (LED) strip attached to a person wearing a white shirt to detect targeted drone activity. When the lights flickered on, it caused the FPV channel to send an SOS by modulating changes in data sent by the flickering lights.
"This research shatters the commonly held belief that using encryption to secure the FPV channel prevents someone from knowing they are being tracked," Nassi said. "The secret behind our method is to force controlled physical changes to the captured target that influence the bitrate (data) transmitted on the FPV channel."
The research could be used to help prevent privacy invasion attacks as well as impact how the military can prevent enemy drones from gathering intelligence, BGU researchers say.
The full research can be found in the new paper entitled Game of Drones.