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UK Government Spends £2M on Anti-Drone Projects

UK Government Spends £2M on Anti-Drone Projects

The UK government is set to spend £1.8m developing anti-drone capabilities, as threats from the skies increase.

The Ministry of Defence’s Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) this week announced funding for 18 projects, which will each receive around £100,000. Successful organizations included University College London, Thales UK, QinetiQ, Northumbria University and BAE Systems Applied Intelligence.

Projects include developing methods to detect 4G and 5G-controlled drones, AI sensors to automatically identify aerial vehicles and low-risk ways of stopping drones through electronic interception.

The first, proof-of-concept, phase will run until summer 2020 and will be followed by a second phase focused on maturing these projects into integrated solutions.

“The introduction of Unmanned Air Systems (UAS), often referred to as drones, has been one of the most significant technological advances of recent years and represents a shift in capability of potential adversaries,” explained competition technical lead, David Lugton.

“The threat from UAS has evolved rapidly and we are seeing the use of hostile improvised UAS threats in overseas theatres of operation. There is a similar problem in the UK with the malicious or accidental use of drones becoming a security challenge at events, affecting critical infrastructure and public establishments; including prisons and major UK airports.”

Drones famously forced hundreds of flights to be cancelled at London’s Gatwick Airport last Christmas, with tens of thousands of passengers stranded. In fact, the number of near-misses involving UAS in the UK soared by over a third from 2017 to 2018.

However, drones could also represent a growing threat not just to physical safety but also network security.

Just this week, defense contractor Booz Allen Hamilton warned that 2020 could see hackers use UAS as rogue access points — landing them in concealed places on corporate property while they harvest credentials, perform man-in-the-middle attacks against employees and carry out network reconnaissance.

Source: Information Security Magazine