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WA experts warns of security risk from ‘sinister’ drone users


Penalties for the illegal use of drones which can be used as weapons of mass destruction need to be increased warns one of the world’s leader experts in cyber security.

Speaking exclusively to Seven West Media ahead of a major international conference on the dangers to security of drones, ECU’s Security Research Institute director Craig Valli said that “drones are not just play things”.

“They are the workhorses of the future but we must remember there is a sinister side,” he said.

“Like all technology, there is an element for evil.

“These toys can be used as weapons of mass destruction and you could, for instance, launch 50 to attack an airport.

“And that attack could be pre-programmed.”

VideoPolice are on the hunt for a drone operator who flew above the domastic airport.

Professor Valli said the capability of drones that can deliver explosives or bacterial contaminants, and cost as little as $300, is growing rapidly with lighter, more powerful batteries and more sophisticated software.

“What you buy today in nine months you will have twice the capability,” he said.

Professor Valli says penalties must be increased to help curb the illegal use of drones, like that seen at Perth Airport on Monday,

“Some of the penalties that can be currently applied for the illegal use of drones – of two years jail and $10,000 – are insufficient,” he said.

VideoResearchers in Peru will study the volcano’s movements

Professor Valli, a member of the High Tech Crime Investigators Association and the INTERPOL Cyber Crime Experts Group, says the conference is striving to get ahead of criminals and raise awareness of the potential risks of drones to society.

ECU has partnered with the US consulate in Perth to bring leading experts together to discuss the latest developments and research around drone and remote IT threats.

The forum is being held at ECU’s Joondalup campus and will feature world-leading experts from the United States and Australia and is the first of its kind outside of Canberra.

“This drone forum is the latest example of US and Western Australian partnerships in cybersecurity,” US Embassy spokesman Michael Heath said.

“Modern day threats don’t respect borders. Our nations are stronger when we fight security risks together.”

VideoA drone racing competition is held in Bangalore, India. Pilots from all over the country compete with each other by manoeuvring their quadcopters through obstacles at speeds as high as 160km/h.

Among the guest speakers at the Drone Forum will be Steven Watson, a US-based technologist focused on the areas of data recovery and drone forensics.

Mr Watson, VTO Labs chief executive, last month hosted a Drone Forensics Working Session, in Colorado, in collaboration with the Interpol Innovation Centre which involved law enforcement personnel from around the world.

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