If you take a walk through your local park, chances are you’ll hear a familiar buzz.

Drones have quickly become the darlings of hobbyists and technology enthusiasts worldwide. With an ever-expanding array of features, ease of use (even children can learn to fly them), and retail prices that keep dropping, drones have never been more accessible.

Their practical applications are too numerous to count. Today, drones are used in surveillance, disaster relief, parcel delivery and a host of other public and private applications, including conducting automated tasks. However, in the wrong hands, a drone’s accessibility, capabilities and ease of flying make it especially suitable for hacking, surveillance, espionage or even more dangerous or harmful purposes.

On the drone’s trail

Drones may compromise any unprotected structure — from company campuses and data centres, to sports stadiums, to private residences and more. An absence of control and legislation, such as the lack of active drone tracking, puts facilities at even greater risk. A recent incident at London’s Gatwick Airport, when approximately 1,000 flights were diverted and 140,000 passengers were affected, shone a spotlight on the need for tighter regulation, stricter control and appropriate methods of securing assets against drone cyber security threats.

Simply put, a fence around the perimeter isn’t enough anymore. If you are looking to secure a site from cyber security attacks or industrial espionage, you’ll need an aerial equivalent. And that’s where drone-detecting software comes in.

Detection systems work on two principles: the first is identifying drones’ radio signals — locating pilot and drone — and the second is pattern recognition. It’s here, in pattern recognition, that the technology shines. It’s capable of making clear distinctions between hobbyists and cyber criminals based on the drone’s flight trajectory.

Equipping the Security Operations Centre (SOC)

Sufficiently sophisticated drone tracker software can detect, classify and protect against drone threats, including locating the drone and, most importantly, its pilot. After confirming a potential threat, countermeasures tailor the defence mechanism to the severity of the threat. A notification system alerts on-site security as well as the authorities, enabling rapid response and efficient containment of the threat — whether that’s retrieving illegally obtained intelligence from an industrial espionage case or catching the pilot responsible for a cyber security attack.

All of this is done at an SOC. The SOC’s services are used by organisations to ensure an end-to-end security screening of their IT infrastructure and the use of data and applications to detect and prevent cyber security risks, both inside and outside the company.

Adding drone detection services lets an SOC continuously monitor drone activities on and around the premises of a company, and analyse those activities with analytical and artificial intelligence algorithms. This helps to differentiate between potential high-risk alerts and harmless hobby pilots cruising around. The detection systems generate data based not just on a drone’s flight path, but on certain key drone technologies, and they monitor drones that pop up again and again at certain times of day, indicating possible wrongdoing or a directed attention towards certain events.

SOCs have always been a hub for systems and resources to direct the defence of an organisation’s digital and physical assets. Today, that means including an essential new element: a scalable, powerful drone defence system.