New site helps pilots, cops scan resale or use of stolen drones

stolen drones

With stolen drones increasingly becoming a favored tool by plotters of aerial criminal activity, both individual victims of theft and law enforcement officials could really use a centralized resource to track the resale and use of pilfered craft. Now they have one with the recently launched StolenDroneInfo, which scans various open-source sites for signs of filched UAVs turning up online or in the air.

The objective of the site is simple, even if it’s conception and functioning are a lot more complex. StolenDroneInfo allows owners of boosted UAVs to log in an array of information about the craft, which is then used in autonomous scans of various popular resale platforms to check for hot vehicles being shopped around. Free to individual users, the app not only provides victims of theft and prospective second-hand buyers a resource for keeping a lookout for pinched products being sold, but also gives law enforcement and security forces a database to check against suspicious craft they may have identified in operation.

The utility was launched as a module of cybersecurity and threat intelligence company DroneSec’s  Notify platform – an enterprise tool that tracks stolen craft to enable real-time C-UAS threat modelling. UAV detection systems check the Notify database to query if a suspect drone spotted in mid-air is purloined, similar to the way police registration cameras check vehicles being controlled.

StolenDroneInfo involves a simple online interface allowing owners of nicked craft to enter the brand, model, software ID, and UAV and controller serial numbers, as well as external identification data like a government registration number. That information is then synced with DroneSec’s internal intelligence platform, permitting its automated crawlers to check open-source sites like Facebook as FB marketplaces, Craigslist, eBay, and others for data on stolen craft.

While any victimized pilot will naturally want help in getting their missing gear back, StolenDroneInfo’s utility to cops may also become increasingly important. 

According to the DroneSec, a growing portion of criminal activity executed from the air relies on using jacked or resold UAVs to reduce identification risk of perpetrators flying craft registered to themselves. That range of illicit aerial operation runs from the surging numbers of contraband drops to prisons from on high, to cross-border drug and human trafficking, and internal drug cartel violence.

“Nefarious crime groups and gangs seek to use drones to deliver narcotics and drop explosives,” the StolenDroneInfo site says. “By stealing drones, they can mask their identity and avoid capture, putting your identity at risk. By registering your stolen drone, a network of systems gets to work to track where it pops up.”

DroneSec says the site provides a triple service to users. Owners of stolen drones have a much higher chance of spotting their craft for resale, and taking steps to get them back. Potential buyers, meantime, can rely on it to avoid purchasing e-fenced UAVs. And it also allows police to determine if a drone they’ve identified in illegal activity was stolen, and return those they’ve seized to rightful owners.

“When a drone gets stolen, there is no one to help ­– the manufacturers rarely block or track the device, and aviation authorities just ‘take note,’” DroneSec says. “In addition to tapping into the masses, we can immediately send the signature of a stolen drone to over 300 sensors around the world – in real time. Not only will we help out the everyday person but dissuade nefarious groups from using a system that is ‘hot’ and being actively searched for.”

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