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Drones have been talked about quite a bit in the news over the past couple of yearswhether it’s the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) by the military or the viral video showing Amazon’s proposal for speedy drone delivery, the devices have really grabbed people’s attention. Now, many are buying their own personal drones and most are looking at the situation as a relatively harmless trend… until recently.

On January 26, a small radio-controlled quadrocopter crashed onto the lawn of the White House, triggering an immediate response from the Secret Service. Luckily, no harm was intended; the owner of the drone actually called to report his mistake and fully cooperated with the ensuing investigation. Though nothing came of it, the incident has sparked more debate about the use of drones and the potential security problems they could cause not just for governments but businesses, as well.

It’s a debate that threatens to overshadow the benefits UAVs could bring to private companies. The real question is if drones represent more of a benefit or a security concern. The more the technology of drones is advanced, the more affordable the devices become to the average consumer. Some drones can be purchased for just a few hundred dollars, and most are used for a variety of purposes. Some people buy them to get impressive photographs from up in the air. Others use it for recording videos, some which go viral on sites like YouTube.

Organizations and institutions can also use drones for crop-dusting, mapping out areas, and capturing footage of live sporting events, and those are just the current uses. In the future, businesses could utilize drones for things like package deliveries. We’re only scratching the surface on what drones can do, but while these positive effects shouldn’t be dismissed, the security hazards from drones can’t be overlooked either.

With such a new technology, the security implications are difficult to estimate. Even so, companies stand to lose a lot if drones are used for nefarious means. Imagine a rival company using a UAV for corporate espionage, recording activities from angles and vantage points they normally couldn’t get.

Equally concerning is the use of drones to hack a company’s network. All it takes is for a cyber attacker to land one drone on a business’s headquarters and proceed to bypass their network security. Or perhaps the hacking would be done on the drone itself, one owned by the company and used for deliveries or other activities. In fact, one white-hat hacker was able to develop a drone that locates and even hijacks other drones, and since a company’s drones would likely have a connection to the business network, malicious hackers could gain access to sensitive material in that way.

Despite these concerns, UAVs could prove to be valuable resources for a private business, even to the point where they could be used to actually enhance their security. Drones are already being used at some airports as a way to collect data on approaching airplanes, while others have used drones for protecting people at large events like the Olympics.

Drones can provide remote surveillance and even monitor for intruders and theft attempts. In fact, many experts believe that drones could be one of the best and strongest measures companies can deploy to deter illegal actions at physical locations. While attackers hacking a company drone is still a real threat, efforts are underway to develop unhackable UAVs.

As with most things in the business world, drones can bring their fair share of benefits and drawbacks. For those companies that are worried about enemy drones infiltrating their premises, special security systems have been created with the goal of alerting people when a drone has trespassed.

In the end, much of the use of drones will be determined by the types of laws and regulations made by state and national governments. Who can use them and what they can be used for are all important questions that will need to be answered, but it appears that the use of drones for companies will likely be a thing of the future. With enough preparation, businesses can be sure they will be a useful resource for many years to come and not a security liability.

Rick-DelgadoAbout the Author: Rick Delgado is a freelancer tech writer and commentator. He enjoys writing about new technologies and trends, and how they can help us. Rick occasionally writes for several tech companies and industry publications.

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in this and other guest author articles are solely those of the contributor, and do not necessarily reflect those of Tripwire, Inc.

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