Image: iStock/Huseyin Bostanci

As Internet of Things devices get deployed in all shapes and sizes, organizations are beginning to think about counter-IoT that can nullify the potential effects of IoT that are harmful.

“This year marked the 20th anniversary of the coordinated terrorist attacks on Sept. 11 … [which caused] profound damage, loss of life and [disrupted] business continuity, and opening an entirely new era of how we approach anti-terrorism,” said Aaditya Devarakonda, CEO of Dedrone, which provides counter-drone technology.

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Devarakonda said that with the potential for IoT devices like drones to perpetrate nefarious acts, an emerging counter-drone industry is positioning itself at the forefront of drone airspace threat control, with a mission of protecting people, property and information from nefarious drones.

‘I’m talking to customers and partners across the security and military landscape globally, and the next nightmare scenario could very well be a malicious actor flying a small drone into a crowded public space like an airport or a stadium,” Devarakonda said.

Small drones work well for these attacks because they are easy to obtain, quick to deploy and adaptive for many different forms of terrorist activity that can range from hostile surveillance to weapons delivery or detonation.

“We are working every day to prevent these events from happening,” Devarakonda said. “We want to develop and provide counter-drone technology to military operations, critical infrastructure and civilians to protect their personnel and property from unwanted drones.”

Devarakonda is not the only one thinking about this. Earlier this year, the U.S. military expressed an interest in using artificial intelligence to identify a swarm of malicious drones and destroy them with a counter-drone operation.

“When you are defending against a drone swarm, a human may be required to make that first decision, but I’m just not sure that any human can keep up with a drone, defending against a drone swarm,” said Gen. John Murray, Commander of Army Futures Command.

The thought is that an AI-driven system could keep pace by identifying, targeting and destroying harmful drones.

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“As a country, we want to use drones more and more every day for productive uses which is an absolutely great thing that we all support and want to happen,” Devarakonda said. “But in the wrong hands, small drones can easily be used for terrorist activity.”

Responding to the challenge, airports and critical infrastructure sites are eager to equip themselves with airspace security technology that can provide them drone and lower airspace situational awareness. The technology would enable them to assess airspace activity and differentiate between friendly and enemy drones.

The threats from malicious drones are real.

When the U.S., U.K. and Israel started drone deployments, not much was going on. But since this early launch, countries like Pakistan and Turkey have also developed programs. Turkey used drones against separatist Kurds in its own country, northern Iraq and Syria; and China has been a combat drone supplier to a host of countries that have enabled drone strikes in Libya, Egypt, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia and Iraq.

“The military activity in the Middle East has renewed the focus in how to maintain safety in the continental U.S. and continue to prevent a resurgence of terrorism from bad actors in the U.S. and abroad,” Devarakonda said.

It is a reminder to us all that for whatever we deploy, we may well need counter measures to protect us from how it could be used.