Hackers able to turbo-charge DJI drones way beyond what's legal

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Hackers able to turbo-charge DJI drones way beyond what's legal

Postby xouper » Sun Jul 16, 2017 6:24 am

This one is for DJI drone owners who are also code monkeys, otherwise this article will either be amusing or incredibly boring.

https://www.theregister.co.uk/2017/07/11/dji_drones_app_sec/ wrote:
Hackers able to turbo-charge DJI drones way beyond what's legal
By John Leyden 11 Jul 2017 at 09:03

Drone hackers in the UK are busy at work exploiting the application security shortcomings of a major manufacturer to circumvent restrictions, including flight elevation limits. DJI says it has pushed out a firmware update to nip the problem in the bud, but one expert The Register spoke to maintains that hacking is still possible.

The potential for drone hacking can be traced back to a mistake made by DJI in leaving development debug code in its Assistant 2 application. Changes could be made by commenting out one line in a file and setting the debug flag from false to true. The shortcoming exposed a full range of parameters that enabled hackers to turn off safeguards.

. . .


Apparently this is mostly about European drones and laws, so I don't know how relevant it is to North American drones.

Until seeing this article, it did not occur to me that hacking the software would be worth the effort.

Just shows to go ya, don't misunderestimate the creativeness of people on a "mission".

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Re: Hackers able to turbo-charge DJI drones way beyond what's legal

Postby Abdul Alhazred » Sun Jul 16, 2017 11:02 am

... flight elevation limits ...


If it ain't in the laws of physics, it ain't a limit. :)
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Re: Hackers able to turbo-charge DJI drones way beyond what's legal

Postby Nyarlathotep » Sun Jul 16, 2017 3:23 pm

Drone hackers.

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Re: Hackers able to turbo-charge DJI drones way beyond what's legal

Postby Abdul Alhazred » Sun Jul 16, 2017 4:09 pm

ON second thought, one thing not quite clear.

Are the "hacking" their own drones (arguably not really hacking), as I assumed last time I posted?

Or are they doing something to unsuspecting innocent drone owners (in which case they are evil scum)?
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Re: Hackers able to turbo-charge DJI drones way beyond what's legal

Postby Mentat » Sun Jul 16, 2017 4:36 pm

Abdul Alhazred wrote:ON second thought, one thing not quite clear.

Are the "hacking" their own drones (arguably not really hacking), as I assumed last time I posted?

Or are they doing something to unsuspecting innocent drone owners (in which case they are evil scum)?


The former. Although from the looks of it, it's not so much hacking as checking under the welcome mat for a house key.
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Re: Hackers able to turbo-charge DJI drones way beyond what's legal

Postby sparks » Sun Jul 16, 2017 5:45 pm

BTW Mentat: Install an avatar, Umkay?
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Re: Hackers able to turbo-charge DJI drones way beyond what's legal

Postby ceptimus » Sun Jul 16, 2017 9:05 pm

If you build your own drones, you're not limited by the DJI geo-fences anyway, and you don't have to suffer the DJI spyware. This exploit just allows DJI-drone owning "hackers" to do some of the things other drones can already do - but the DJI drones still suffer from poorer performance than a good home-built drone.

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Re: Hackers able to turbo-charge DJI drones way beyond what's legal

Postby gnome » Mon Jul 17, 2017 12:33 pm

The term "hacking" has split recently (? :oldman:) and doesn't only refer to the unauthorized access of a computer system remotely, but now can also mean modifying a gizmo to do things it was not intended to or incapable of out-of-the-box.

Clickbait articles will conflate the meanings :P
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Re: Hackers able to turbo-charge DJI drones way beyond what's legal

Postby Mentat » Mon Jul 17, 2017 12:48 pm

Hasn't it always meant that?
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Re: Hackers able to turbo-charge DJI drones way beyond what's legal

Postby Abdul Alhazred » Mon Jul 17, 2017 1:30 pm

gnome wrote:The term "hacking" has split recently (? :oldman:) and doesn't only refer to the unauthorized access of a computer system remotely, but now can also mean modifying a gizmo to do things it was not intended to or incapable of out-of-the-box.

Clickbait articles will conflate the meanings :P


Hacking or cracking?

But you are indeed a old geek if you get pissy about the distinction at this date. :oldman:
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Re: Hackers able to turbo-charge DJI drones way beyond what's legal

Postby Grammatron » Mon Jul 17, 2017 5:44 pm

I'm an RC hobbyist (planes, not helicopters or drones), and this this article makes no sense to me. The safeguards are there to protect the drone from the users' stupidity, removing them isn't hacking in any way shape or form. That's forgoing the fact that you can build these things from scratch and program them to do anything you want.
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Re: Hackers able to turbo-charge DJI drones way beyond what's legal

Postby Mentat » Mon Jul 17, 2017 6:06 pm

Grammatron wrote:I'm an RC hobbyist (planes, not helicopters or drones), and this this article makes no sense to me. The safeguards are there to protect the drone from the users' stupidity, removing them isn't hacking in any way shape or form. That's forgoing the fact that you can build these things from scratch and program them to do anything you want.


Maybe it's a UK-specific thing? I don't know anything about the laws around drones.
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Re: Hackers able to turbo-charge DJI drones way beyond what's legal

Postby Grammatron » Mon Jul 17, 2017 6:54 pm

Mentat wrote:
Grammatron wrote:I'm an RC hobbyist (planes, not helicopters or drones), and this this article makes no sense to me. The safeguards are there to protect the drone from the users' stupidity, removing them isn't hacking in any way shape or form. That's forgoing the fact that you can build these things from scratch and program them to do anything you want.


Maybe it's a UK-specific thing? I don't know anything about the laws around drones.


It certainly can be a UK/EU specific thing, I am not familiar with regulations they deal with.

But, it's trivial to buy a transmitter radio, receivers, servos, motors, propellers, auto-gyro/gps module, and a frame. The only limiting factor about what these drones can do is batteries/fuel.
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Re: Hackers able to turbo-charge DJI drones way beyond what's legal

Postby xouper » Mon Jul 17, 2017 8:35 pm

Grammatron wrote:I'm an RC hobbyist (planes, not helicopters or drones), and this this article makes no sense to me. The safeguards are there to protect the drone from the users' stupidity, removing them isn't hacking in any way shape or form. That's forgoing the fact that you can build these things from scratch and program them to do anything you want.


Some of the limits imposed by the software are legal limits not performance limits. Also, not all performance limits are to protect from user stupidity, but rather to protect the unskilled (unless you meant that unskilled = stupid).

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Re: Hackers able to turbo-charge DJI drones way beyond what's legal

Postby Grammatron » Mon Jul 17, 2017 8:47 pm

xouper wrote:
Grammatron wrote:I'm an RC hobbyist (planes, not helicopters or drones), and this this article makes no sense to me. The safeguards are there to protect the drone from the users' stupidity, removing them isn't hacking in any way shape or form. That's forgoing the fact that you can build these things from scratch and program them to do anything you want.


Some of the limits imposed by the software are legal limits not performance limits.


True, but if you put together a "drone" yourself such limits do not exist. The legal limits is something the manufacturer puts in place. It's no different than disabling air-bags in your car.

Also, not all performance limits are to protect from user stupidity, but rather to protect the unskilled (unless you meant that unskilled = stupid).

I did mean unskilled = stupid.
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Re: Hackers able to turbo-charge DJI drones way beyond what's legal

Postby xouper » Mon Jul 17, 2017 9:02 pm

Grammatron wrote:
xouper wrote:
Grammatron wrote:I'm an RC hobbyist (planes, not helicopters or drones), and this this article makes no sense to me. The safeguards are there to protect the drone from the users' stupidity, removing them isn't hacking in any way shape or form. That's forgoing the fact that you can build these things from scratch and program them to do anything you want.


Some of the limits imposed by the software are legal limits not performance limits.


True, but if you put together a "drone" yourself such limits do not exist. The legal limits is something the manufacturer puts in place. It's no different than disabling air-bags in your car.


I'm not sure I'm getting the point of your complaint. Are you quibbling about the definition of the word "hacking"?


Grammatron wrote:The legal limits is something the manufacturer puts in place.


Yes, I thought that was clear from the article I posted.

Some of the software limits put there by the manufacturer are to keep the drone from going where it is legally not allowed to go. I'm not sure I get the point of your airbag analogy, so some clarification would be helpful.

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Re: Hackers able to turbo-charge DJI drones way beyond what's legal

Postby Grammatron » Mon Jul 17, 2017 9:04 pm

My point is it's no more hacking than people "hacking" their cars to remove air-bags.
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Re: Hackers able to turbo-charge DJI drones way beyond what's legal

Postby xouper » Mon Jul 17, 2017 9:11 pm

Grammatron wrote:My point is it's no more hacking than people "hacking" their cars to remove air-bags.


That is a legitimate definition of the word "hacking". What exactly are you complaining about?


http://www.dictionary.com/browse/hacking wrote:
7. Computers. a. to modify (a computer program or electronic device) or write (a program) in a skillful or clever way: Developers have hacked the app.

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Re: Hackers able to turbo-charge DJI drones way beyond what's legal

Postby Mentat » Mon Jul 17, 2017 9:12 pm

In general news media terms, hacking means "Making an electronic thing do a thing that the thing does not normally do". Although it is the Register, so maybe they mean hacker as in hardware/software tinkerer.
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Re: Hackers able to turbo-charge DJI drones way beyond what's legal

Postby Grammatron » Mon Jul 17, 2017 9:15 pm

xouper wrote:
Grammatron wrote:My point is it's no more hacking than people "hacking" their cars to remove air-bags.


That is a legitimate definition of the word "hacking". What exactly are you complaining about?


http://www.dictionary.com/browse/hacking wrote:
7. Computers. a. to modify (a computer program or electronic device) or write (a program) in a skillful or clever way: Developers have hacked the app.


Yeah ok.
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