A drone is an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV). Before the rise in consumer interest in drones, the word „drone“ was primarily used to refer to the UAVs used the military.

Nowadays, thouth, intelligent quadcopters that have UAV-like features are more popular among consumers than ever. Eventhough these drones are not technically as advanced as military drones, we refert to them as „drones“ because they are similar in nature. They both allow the user to operate an aerial vehicle in order to conduct a particular task. In case of consumer drones, this task is typically to shoot video or capture still images.

Right now consumer and commercial drones are primarily used for aerial photography and videography. Commericial drones, however, are expanding in terms of usage and in the future you will see drones being used for things like, monitoring crops, delivering packages, dropping off life vests to swimmers in need of help, mail delivery, finding missing people, etc. Drones will likely change the way our society operates in the coming years, but for now, consumers are mostly limited to being able to take cool pictures and videos.

Recent events however have shown that drones can be misused in multiple ways (terror attacks / industrial espionage / breach of privacy / drug and weapon smuggle etc.) and thereby pose a serious security and privacy risk if not adressed properly.

  • Industrial Espionage: high-definition pictures of secret construction sites, confidential documents or meetings
  • Terrorist Attacks: regular drones can be equipped with guns or even dangerous chemicals / bombs and pose a serious threat for the security of Public buildings, government buildings and sports arenas
  • Smuggling: guns and drugs can be smuggled over the boarder or into a prison
  • Breach of Privacy: HD cameras attached to a drone can spy on any person (especially famous athletes, celeberties or public figures) on their own private retreat

Basically, anyone with a boundary fence can be affected by drones:

  • companies from the chemical and automotive industry;
  • nuclear power stations;
  • public facilities;
  • institutions such as prisons;
  • ministries;
  • airports;
  • stadium operators;
  • security firms and
  • constructors that protect private property.

There are different countermeasures to make sure your privacy and security are not endangered.

  • One option is a drone detector which uses microphones in order to spot nearby UAVs and inform the user that there is a drone within the predetermined area.
  • Another countermeasure is a jamming device. The idea is to block and interfere with the communication singnals.
  • Some companies believe that the best way to neutralise a drone is to physically intercept it (with a „net“).
  • A fourth countermeasure: drones can be hacked.

„Jammers“ (which include devices commonly known as blockers, GPS jammers, cell phone jammers, text blockers) are mostly illegal radio frequency transmitters that are made to jam, block or otherwise interfere with authorized radio communications. Jamming devices may block cellular communications as well as public safety communications.

A jamming device can block all radio communications on any device that operates on radio frequencies within a certain radius or the jammer by emitting waves that prevent the targeted device („drone“) from establishing or maintaining a connection. Jamming devices generally do not discriminate between desirable and undesirable communications.

Jammer can for example:

  • prevent a first responder from locating you in an emergency
  • prevent your cell phone from making or receiving calls, email and text messages
  • prevent your Wi-Fi enabled device from connecting to the Internet.

Jamming devices do not just weed out noisy conversations, stop annoying drone privacy breaches and disable unwanted GPS tracking. They can also prevent emergency calls from getting through to first responders or interfere with police and other law enforcement communications that are critical to the carrying out of law enforcement missions.

Therefore the use of jamming devices by civilians is prohibited.

Each country has different rules and regulations when it comes to drones. In most of them the weight of the drone plays a decisive role. Whether it is to determine if the consumer has to register the drone with the authorities (US) or if the consumer needs a permit in order to fly the drone (CH). Aside from the registration and or permit requirement most countries have basic rules in place for non-commercial users such as

  • never let the drone get out of your sight
  • do not fly near manned aircraft / airport
  • do not fly the drone over stadiums or events
  • do not fly the drone over people or crowds of people
  • do not fly recklessly or in anyway that endangers others.

As stated above the use of jamming devices by civilians is not permitted.