The arrival of commercial drones and unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) has created both opportunities and challenges alike. Giving an explosion of innovation to the industry, it has been tripling its presence across the entire security sphere. With an estimated hype in the operation of drones, the prospect seems to be promising in the drone management sector. Drones have managed to help us in a variety of areas. It is used mainly as a risk mitigation tool along with security teams as an effective auxiliary and cost-effective tool.
The uses of these drones are countless as many organizations rely on drones for various security purposes which include site surveys of large properties, an inspection of the long stretched pipeline of utilities, taking videos or photos of a big gathering, and other endless activities. Security teams and professionals are using the same for monitoring sites and detecting potential threats.
And to its discredit, there are some malicious uses with the same drone such as spying on the business competitors, helping to steal properties especially intellectual property and smuggling prohibited items. It can also be used to inflict physical damages. Though it started as a useful and playful toy operated by non-malicious people, it has been now changed to a much evolved and sophisticated one even making the job of terrorist organizations easier to target and carry out attacks in a more advanced manner.
When the availability and use of drones become widespread, countries are simultaneously worried about the potential danger and are looking forward to taking some actions in that direction. While they are supposed to value freedom, most countries are struggling with the prevalence of such drones. Given the level of benefits and uses, private agencies are extensively relying on drones for many purposes including malicious ones. So, when the future seems to be full of drones, it will be better to discuss the opportunities and uses as well as risks and challenges of drones in the days to come.
What do drones do in the security field?
The availability of drones is pervasive as it is cheaper, environmental-friendly and easy to use, commercial drones can be seen even in marriage functions to take perfect shoots in certain upper angles. It can reach inaccessible places and rescue people strangled in risk-filled areas. Now, drones have been the key player even in the agriculture sector. Farmers use drones to detect any crop failure other than watering and fertilizing thief paddy fields.
In the security field, in addition to enforcing surveillance, drones are being used to deliver relief supplies to those trapped in flood areas or other calamities. It can spot arsenal sites, dangerous developments in the protected areas.
Drones are capable of helping security professionals in a variety of ways as a mitigation tool of significant security issues. Let us consider some of its use as a security deterrence technology.
Cost-effective: many organizations rely on applying drones for monitoring their structures and property. Instead of employing more security personnel at the site, enterprises now save a lot of money by using drones. They don’t have to employ more full-time security personnel or install cameras on all sites if they afford to buy a drone. So, it is reducing the amount the expenditure a company has to spend to secure its security infrastructure. Security personnel equipped with operating drones are being employed in these fields.
Assessing the potential risks: Security personnel use drones to detect vulnerabilities and fragile areas. They will be able to find gaps in their works and proceed to fix them. They can sense the risks and loopholes easily with the help of drones. They don’t need to go to the roof to know if there is any security risk hiding behind the top. Personnel uses it with the thermal camera even at night to monitor campuses, auditoriums, and large gatherings. With this process, they can control the whole area and prevent any possible danger from happening.
Securing remote assets: drones are the most effective tool if you are looking for securing large areas of land, animals, plants, and other valuable asset. For example, if you have a large plot of hundreds of acres with valuable trees and food items in it; you can use drones to prevent theft and other fraud activities across the area.
Drones with the capacity of analyzing images and audio-video sensors can assess the situation more effectively than a security officer does. It can sense the danger and simultaneously inform the authority that there is an immediate situation at the given place.
Emergency relief: Assessing the intensity of emergencies and providing the required help in the process of the rescue operation is what makes the drone unique. It is doing well in terms of finding people isolated in flood or fire or earthquake or inside the collapsing building and helping them to escape the situation.
How drones turn into a challenge
Drones can turn into a nightmare in multiple ways. Apart from being in the hand of malicious people, the drone can simply turn dangerous if the operator loses control. It can happen when the operator is an untrained one or when someone hacks the system. And as a technology, it is viable to system failures. So, without any intention of harming, it can inflict injuries and it will be bigger if someone malicious takes control of the drone through hacking and make a deliberate movement. It has now become a trend that people buy a drone fly it like a toy without receiving any training or standard. Such untrained operators pose enormous risks to their lives and properties. Ryan Hendricks, the Managing partner at Dronuspher, says “there are not enough trained drone operators to meet the demand right now”. This is why the news of drone accidents is not a surprise these days.
Data theft: a big challenge
Drones as a technology vulnerable to hacking can manipulate the manufacturing process and can be used to steal information. The recent example of the department of home security of the USA warning companies about the Chinese-made drones being used to send sensitive data to its manufacturers in China has shown the gaps and loopholes hiding behind the droned security requirements. As most of the drones used in America are manufactured in China, they can manipulate and steal data from the clients.
Collision is yet another big challenge that the drone is susceptible to. As even a bird can make a plane’s journey difficult and sometimes takes it down, the possibility of collision and subsequent injuries are going to be a reality when the skies are all over the world with commercial drones. It can claim thousands of lives if it touches a plane or helicopters that flee below 500 feet.
So, all things considered, an operator of a drone must be liable for the activities it does. And he should take responsibility for any loss caused by the drone.
How drones affect the national security
This article discussed how the drone itself is a boon and threat at the same time. Last but not least, here we are considering the larger security concerns about the continuous advancement of aerial vehicle technology. The drones have paved a new road for military attacks and war requirements. America uses thousands of drones for various military requirements which include capturing imageries of illegal and malicious practices. As of now, the evolving drones with its shapes, size, capacities, and strengths reflects the demands and the needs it is going to carry out in the near future. Jet-powered drones can fly as fast as commercial flight and can be deployed to any site. Drones are already using in militaries across the world.
Despite the advantages that drones can provide to the various requirements, it could be an unforeseeable threat if it is in the hand of an irresponsible militia group instead of a responsible one. Besides, there are many utilities across the world capable of manufacturing sophisticated drones. Varied types of drones already exist in the market in immeasurable amounts. So, the easy availability of the drones makes it extra-advantageous to the terrorist and other malicious groups. The instance of insurgency using drones for attacking their enemy is already there as the Colombian group FARC carried out a Tokyo subway attack in Japan in 1995. And there has been news of their terrorist outfits considering the uses of commercial drones for carrying out attacks.
As there are no significant efforts so far from the governments and international community towards the non-proliferation of commercial drones, the future looks uncertain with the drones are each day taking different shapes, sophistication, and power. As they can be equipped with many arsenals, the threat they pose will be unimaginable.
To conclude, drones with all their advantages can cause various damages in multiple spheres. Ranging from the terrorist organizations designing it packed with explosive materials to attack their target, accidental falling of drones on the crowd in large venues to the use of an ordinary individual with basic know-how in order to inflict another one. So, the time demands effective measures and professional experts in the field.