A drone tried to disrupt the power grid.This won’t be the last time

July Last year, a DJI Mavic 2 drone approached a substation in Pennsylvania. Two 4-foot-long nylon ropes hang down from its rotor, and a thick copper wire is attached to both ends with electrical tape. The device has been stripped of any identifiable markings, as well as its on-board camera and memory card, which is obviously an effort by its owner to avoid detection. According to a joint security bulletin issued by the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, and the National Counter-Terrorism Center, its possible goal is to “disrupt operations by creating short circuits.”

The drone crashed on the roof of an adjacent building before reaching its surface target, damaging a rotor in the process. Its operator has not been found yet.The announcement stated that the incident was initially reported ABC, Constitutes the first known example of an improved unmanned aircraft system used “specifically” for the US energy infrastructure. However, this seems unlikely to be the last time.

In response to a request for comment, a spokesperson for the Department of Homeland Security wrote that the agency “regularly shares information with federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial officials to ensure the safety and security of all communities across the country.”

When it comes to the potential for serious damage from consumer drones, experts have already Has sounded the alarm for at least six years, Saying that their wide range of usability and features provide opportunities for bad actors. In 2018, an unmanned aerial vehicle carrying explosives carried out an obvious Assassination of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. Islamic State and other terrorist organizations used Consumer-grade quadcopter for surveillance and offensive operations.

But the events in Pennsylvania represent an astonishing escalation in the use of drones in the United States. Similar incidents have occurred in the United States before: In 2015, a drone landed on the lawn of the White House. The recent surge in drone sightings near airports and other key locations put the FAA in trouble. Until now, these invasions can be considered accidental. no longer.

“I’m surprised that it took so long,” said Colin Clark, director of policy and research at the Soufan Group, an intelligence and security consulting firm. “If you have a little understanding of how drones work, and you can touch some crude explosives or just bump them into something, then you may cause a lot of damage.”

The operator of the Pennsylvania drone seems to have tried a less violent method. But the effort to hide the identity of the operator may prevent them from establishing contact with the intended target. The Joint Communiqué said that by removing the camera, they had to rely on line-of-sight navigation instead of being able to capture the drone’s line of sight. Although this effort has failed, the analysts of the report are well aware that this is unlikely to be an aberration; if anything, they would like to see drone activity “increase in the energy sector and other critical infrastructure, Because the use of these systems in the United States continues to expand.”

No corresponding mitigation measures have been adopted to deal with this growing threat. Although the FAA does restrict where consumer drones can fly, security experts and drone manufacturers are urging it to do more. “Just like the manufacturers of pickup trucks or mobile phones, once people have drones, we have little control over what they do with them,” said Adam Lisberg, a spokesperson for DJI. “DJI has long supported giving the authorities the legal capacity to take immediate action against drones that pose a clear threat, and we have long supported laws that punish some deliberately misusing drones.”

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