Inside Unmanned Systems

AUG-SEP 2018

Inside Unmanned Systems provides actionable business intelligence to decision-makers and influencers operating within the global UAS community. Features include analysis of key technologies, policy/regulatory developments and new product design.

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AIR LAW ENFORCEMENT 68   August/September 2018 unmanned systems inside Watson noted. On the other hand, "some drones require disassembly of the aircraft; other drones require complete disassembly down to the chips. One of the premises of our research is identifying how to get the data of test devices so digital forensic practitioners have guidance when they receive devices as evidence." For each make the model of drone VTO Labs has researched, the team has purchased three systems and f lown them in a controlled, geo- fenced environment until they accumulated a baseline amount of data. The researchers then extracted data from one while leaving it intact. They disassembled a second and extracted data from its circuit board and on- board cameras. With the third, they removed all the drone's chips and extracted data from them directly. They also disassembled and ex- tracted data from the pilot controls and other remotely connected devices. The researchers were able to retrieve serial numbers, f light paths, launch and landing locations, photos and videos from the drones. On one model, they even found a database that stores a user's credit card information. One reason this might be is because a drone manufacturer sought to give users the ability to order spare parts from the apps connected with their drones, Watson said. The images were created using industry standard data formats so investigators can analyze them using forensic software tools and inspect their contents. The images for each drone also come with step-by-step photo- illustrated teardown instructions. Watson did not have any experience with drones before he and his company started this research. "However, the VTO Labs team has many years of experience retrieving data from electronic embedded devices," he said. "By ap- plying our embedded device experience to this new technology platform, we were successful in retrieving the data off all of the drones we have encountered so far." VTO Labs has forensic images of 14 popular makes and models of drones on the site, and hopes to have images of 30 models available by the end of 2018 and 90 models supported over the next three years. "This includes full analy- sis and rolling data updates as new versions of software comes out," Watson said. There are, of course, currently hundreds of drone models on the market and many more coming. Instead of covering all of the drones available, "our efforts will focus on the drones with the largest market share, as we then have the broadest coverage for our work," Watson said. "If an organization receives a device not covered by our research, our team is capable of helping them with the one-off devices as they encounter them." Benjamin Findlay, a senior lecturer in crime intelligence and data analytics at Teesside University in England, found this drone fo- rensics project vital because of its proactive nature. "The rate at which technology develops is incredible, and often devices will be used in the commission of a crime before they are fully understood from the perspective of Aerial drones at the VTO Labs field research station in Colorado.

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