Two self-proclaimed hackers — former information technology employees for the U.S. Air Force — have modified an army drone that can “discreetly break into Wi-Fi networks, emit jamming signals and even pose as a cellphone tower to intercept communications from the ground,” according to Popular Science.
Richard Perkins and Mike Tassey spent two years and $6,000 to create this Wireless Aerial Surveillance Platform — pet named Vespid, which is Latin for wasp — that they envision use for in surveillance applications.
Here’s what it takes according to Popular Science:
- FQM-117B Army target drone
- High-powered radio antenna
- 32-gigabyte USB drive
- 4G USB dongle
- Two lithium-polymer batteries
Perkins and Tassey removed the drone’s original radio system, which they replaced with some of the above components for hacking capabilities. The drone can fly for about a half hour on its battery power and has soared up to 22,000 feet.
Popular Science reports that then men showcased Vespid to prove a point at an August security conference:
If they could construct a spy drone from legal, off-the-shelf components for a few thousand dollars, then despite its complexity, others could do the same — including those with nefarious motives.
Other than being capable of hacking, the modified drone also could have some more honorable applications such as providing Wi-Fi and cell service in disaster zones.
Watch this test flight of Vespid earlier this year:
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