Hackers Build $2,500 Drone That Can Launch Network Assaults From The Air

There are a lot of positive uses for drones and other unmanned aircraft. Amazon envisions a day when packages will be dropped off on your doorstep courtesy of a drone, and Facebook wants to use them to bring wireless broadband to remote regions. Good stuff, though as it goes with just about all technology, somebody's going to find a nefarious use for it.

In this case, there may be a day when drones are used to drop malware from the sky. The foundation is already being laid, though not specifically for that purpose. There's a company called Aerial Assault that modded a quadcopter with a Raspberry Pi computer running the Kali Linux penetration tester software. It's also equipped with alpha radio antennas for improved broadcast range.


With these pieces in place, the quadcopter can fly above homes and businesses scanning for insecure Wi-Fi networks and devices. Aerial Assault's intentions are to help people and firms diagnose their networks, but the company also acknowledges that with just a little bit of modding, its quadcopter could also be used to exploit any vulnerabilities it finds. In other words, the potential for good versus evil depends on who's controlling the device.

"It is up to the user to decide what they do with it. If the user, they have Raspberry Pi with Kali on it, they can reprogram custom scripts. That’s good for doing more extensive [penetration] testing. But, you know, scripts can be whatever they are," said David Jordan, a spokesperson for Aerial Assault. "Our intended use is for pentesters to be able to diagnose vulnerabilities and help people understand what their Wi-Fi accessiblity is, even up in the air."

As configured, the quadcopter runs some basic tests and logs GPS coordinates. It will be available to purchase later this week from the company's website for around $2,500.