Dronebuster device in use during a training exercise for dealing with COTS drones
Surveillance

Methods to Counter Drones

Cheap drones, like the DJI Phantom, are becoming a ubiquitous technology. They can be cheaply used for surveillance (unmanned aerial surveillance), and in some cases they are being weaponized. How can you perform counter-drone operations? First of all – we’re assuming you are legally able to do this. There are “no drone airspace” restrictions in place around many government facilities, including Air Force Bases. Let’s look at the options. Kinetic Methods Physical damage to the drone through gunfire is also an option. But, firing off guns (especially up in the air) can lead to more trouble than it is worth. Bullets fired on a high arc have to land somewhere – and that’s both a safety risk to people and it is highly likely to cause collateral damage. Nets can be used to ensnare drones – but this is a relatively short range method. As we’ll see, there are easier ways to counter drones. Command and Control Disruption Systems like the Dronebuster are capable of interfering with the drones radio command frequencies. This effectively neutralizes the drone, and prevents it [Read More…]

Poster showing how GPS works
Surveillance

How GPS Works

GPS is a constellation of 24 or more satellites flying 20,350 km above the surface of the Earth. Each one circles the planet twice a day in one of six orbits to provide continuous, worldwide coverage. 1. GPS satellites broadcast radio signals providing their locations, status, and precise time (t1) from on-board atomic clocks. 2. The GPS radio signals travel through space at the speed of light (c), more than 299,792 km/second. 3. A GPS device receives the radio signals, noting their exact time of arrival (t2), and uses these to calculate its distance from each satellite in view. To calculate its distance from a satellite, a GPS device applies this formula to the satellite’s signal: distance = rate x time, where rate is (c) and time is how long the signal traveled through space. The signal’s travel time is the difference between the time broadcast by the satellite (t1) and the time the signal is received (t2). 4. Once a GPS device knows its distance from at least four satellites, it can use geometry to determine its location on [Read More…]

Cellular phone tower
Privacy

Why Cell Phones Are Not Good For Private Communication

Cell phones (smart phones) are not a good option for private communications. Why? They way cell phones work is that they are actually mobile radios. They communicate with a network of cell towers – think of these as “relays” for the cell phone network. And for calls to be routed properly, the cell network has to know the physical location of your phone at all times – so it can route incoming calls to your phone. That’s right – when your cell phone is not in airplane mode (or turned off) it is constantly reporting it’s location to the cellular network. And that’s the origin of the term “cellular” network – it’s split up into cells covered with radio towers. Additionally, your voice calls are routed through the cellular provider’s network. Cell phone calls are encrypted – in that you can’t listen to them over the air using a generic radio – but your cell provider can of course decrypt and listen in. How about using Internet connected applications? Internet applications like WhatsApp are a better choice. WhatsApp has end-to-end [Read More…]