The commercial drone market experienced major growth in 2022, and this trend is expected to continue as drones become more affordable, accessible, and technologically advanced. However, misuse of drones remains a significant risk in this rapidly growing and evolving industry. While most drone users are safely using their drones, nefarious drone operators pose an alarming threat to physical safety and whose actions could also lead to hefty economic damage.
With more drone incidents and attacks reported in the public domain in 2022, lawmakers are taking note. My blog Round-Up of Drone Incidents and Attacks in The First Half of 2022 highlighted incidents that occurred in sensitive environments, such as military bases, airports, border crossings, and prisons. The second half of the year saw criminals continue to take advantage of the technology, as well as unauthorized drone operators disregarding drone regulations and restrictions, in a range of environments.
In this blog series, we’ll examine the current state of the rogue drone threat, specifically in the context of notable incidents across various environments, categorized into those perpetrated by criminals, with malicious intent and those committed by civilians who carelessly disregard or are unaware of restrictions and regulations. The purpose of this series is to provide an understanding of the scope of the rogue drone threat, and to identify and understand patterns of behavior for which countermeasures can be taken to protect people, assets and critical infrastructure from potential harm.
Let’s start with…
Technological advancements have always been exploited by bad actors. There is a high degree of adaptability and adeptness among the criminal community to capitalize on new opportunities, swiftly incorporating evolving technologies into their operations. This is happening with drones, which are being used for smuggling, illegal surveillance, and attacks.
Rogue drones are a problem plaguing prisons, with drone contraband deliveries raging at prisons worldwide. For prisoners, drones have become the most effective means of smuggling in illicit goods including drugs, weapons and other contraband. Prison drone incidents tracked by D-Fend increased significantly in 2022, with incidents reported in 16 countries.
Here are just a few of the reported incidents that took place in the latter half of the year:
In a recent Legislative Tour, Gloria Chavez, Border Patrol chief for the Rio Grande Valley sector, stated a big concern she has now is the use of drones by criminal organizations to spy on her agents in the field. She said that criminal “groups are buying drones as soon as they are delivered to Best Buy.” Since last year, more than 24,000 unauthorized drones have been detected in her domain.
Across the globe, incidents surged at the Indo-Pak border in 2022. Indian Border Security Forces reported that incidents of drones delivering drugs, arms and ammunition across the border from Pakistan have more than doubled since 2021.
A drone attack on or espionage at critical facilities or infrastructure could cause severe disruption, potentially affecting millions of people. The second half of 2022 included several notable reported drone incidents, including:
Drones are used by law enforcement agencies around the world in a variety of ways to save lives and enhance the safety of officers. However, use of drones by criminals against law enforcement has the opposite effect.
In Mexico –
In the US –
In my next blog, we will look at the current state of the threat posed by rogue drones, relating especially to notable incidents caused by civilians unaware of or who carelessly disregard restrictions & regulations.