Amazon drones, hax0r3d

Have you seen all that stuff in the news about Amazon’s proposed new delivery method? At first glance, it looked like an April Fool’s joke – but then I remembered it was December. My money’s on it being a project that nobody intends to come to fruition; but a very clever bit of marketing for a month when Amazon sees more business than it does in any other month of the year.

The idea here is that orders under five pounds weight will be delivered to your doorstep in 30 minutes by one of these little drones from 2015. Let’s put aside objectionable thoughts about getting civil aviation licences for thousands of drones at one time; about scalability; about range; and about the way people in certain of Amazon’s markets have a habit of keeping guns in the house and shooting things. It’s a nice bit of PR and it made me smile.

But I was particularly tickled to find several people email me Samy Kamkar’s other objection to the drone idea: namely that they’d be very simple to subvert if you happen to be the no-moral-compass type who wants to get their hands on other people’s shopping. And (astonishingly quickly, given that Amazon broke the news three days ago), he’s built a demonstration of just how you’d go about doing that. Samy’s SkyJack is an autonomous drone that seeks other drones within range of its WiFi and hacks them, turning them into zombies under its control. Samy says:

Using a Parrot AR.Drone 2, a Raspberry Pi, a USB battery, an Alfa AWUS036H wireless transmitter, aircrack-ng, node-ar-drone, node.js, and my SkyJack software, I developed a drone that flies around, seeks the wireless signal of any other drone in the area, forcefully disconnects the wireless connection of the true owner of the target drone, then authenticates with the target drone pretending to be its owner, then feeds commands to it and all other possessed zombie drones at my will.

We at Pi Towers are full of raucous glee. You can read more about SkyJack and Samy’s exploits, and find out how he did it, at his website.

Oh – and you can buy a Raspberry Pi from Amazon.