Global Drone Security Network Event #2- Christopher Church (INTERPOL)
This is the second post of GDSN #2 review, if you haven't read our previous review it is a good time to check out the great talks!
Christopher Church (INTERPOL) - Drone Security & Law Enforcement
Hello, my name is Chris church, I work for Interpol. I am a senior mobile forensic examiner; I will give you an overview of our view of drones and the issues that we're seeing for both law enforcement and for the world out there. So I hope you enjoyed the presentation is going to be very foundational, so not going to have too much technical jargon in so hopefully, you'll gain something from this presentation. So, let's just start with a quick video.
So, as you can see, that can be quite terrifying for an organization to use a drone. And it's very simple and as effective. So, let's quickly talk about policing and the issue that we face in policing. So, policing has been around since 1890. And it's always followed the same model, someone reports a crime you investigate, you hopefully apprehend the suspect, you then have a conviction, which may be a jail sentence, or maybe community service. And then if it becomes a real problem, you create a deterrent, and you control the crime. The problem is nowadays, because most crime that's causing major issues, he is either online or can be done remotely, we have this problem, which is, in a real-world crime scene, you have a proximity, you have a physical constraint is that a ground level AI in front of you. And as limited scale, and there generally is a pattern behind what's happened, it's not a completely random occurrence. There's always something that leads up to that crime happening. Either people doing a lot of reconnaissance of the crime scene or of the area, they're going to commit the crime or there's a core discussion between the two parties who are involved in crime, the victim and the suspect. The problem is, in modern day crime, you have this problem, which is, there is no proximity. It can be unlimited in scale. So, if you think about cybercrime, where people are trying to steal people's identities and take money from the banks, they can do that from one country to another without too much technical know-how, and without any regard for the victims, wellbeing or material assets. There are also no physical constraints, and they also possibly will be no pattern. But then when you then add things in like a drone, it becomes even more complicated because that drone could be controlled by someone in another country using drone mule to put that drone into the proximity where they want to commit the crime. And they can just switch it on and control it through the internet, or fire, a wireless connection. And they don't even need to be anywhere close to that crime scene.
So, law enforcement itself has struggled with technology. So, my background is mobile phone forensics, which I've been doing for 17 years. And even mobile phone forensics is a real challenge. Because when we had basic knockers is fairly easy to do forensics. But now when you talk about using iPhones and Android devices, with the App Store, it's very difficult for many people to understand why people use the apps they do. Also, policing has suffered from a lack of investment, a lack of specialist knowledge, a lack of training, especially in technical subjects, such as cybercrime, and digital forensics, because generally what happens is if a policeman gets trained in cybercrime, they tend to get taken up by a bank or someone like that. There's also the use of technology to combat crime can be very complex because it could be up to five years before new technologies used by police because they have to go through testing and a lot of verification that this technology works. And also, how is that technology going to affect other factors within the investigation? The problem is criminal networks adapt to technology a lot quicker than law enforcement does. And generally, law enforcement anyway.
Got a technology when it's used in a crime. So, the issue is, criminals are using drones for the last four to five years in my experience, and we're still struggling because people don't understand that a drone can be easily controlled, can be easily flown, and can go anywhere, as long as the battery stays live, and can be controlled remotely. So, we'll look at some of the crimes that are being used in that area.
So, these are the challenges of law enforcement face. And it's not getting easier is getting harder, because technology is evolving a lot quicker than the mindsets of policing. And the criminals are adapting a lot quicker, especially in these times of COVID, where they're having to change their business model because of how the world is shaping at this moment in time.
So, when we worried about trying strains beside to be used in in the theatre of war in the Iraq war.
And initially, when the Americans and the Iraqi forces faced the drone threat, they didn't even know what it was because they never looked up at the sky to look at this Phantom drone that was in the sky with a grenade on it. And it was only after maybe a couple of months of these things happening. And they suddenly realized they were using these drones, which you could buy from any model shop and put and put a grenade on it and use the landing light trigger to release the grenade above the troops. So, when the army was in battle, they not only had to look ahead of them, and behind them, they also had to look up and that changed the theatre of combat very quickly. Also, airports started to see an increase of people flying drones over the airport to take pictures of the terminal or new unique plane that was on the airport. Or just because they were at the airport and I decided to fly a drone, I'm aware of someone who came in on a connecting flight into a country and his flight got delayed, he had a drone in his backpack, so he switched it on. And he flew it in the middle of the airport to look at the planes taxiing and taking off. But because his drone was located was brought in another country, the geo fencing wasn't loaded up onto the drone itself. So, he was able to fly that drone at the airport and cause the airport shut down for two hours. And this problem is occurring every week or every month at least somewhere around the world. And a lot of airports don't even know they have a problem because they don't have the means to check if there's drones in the area. And to spot a drone that is maybe 200 feet in the air you need to really be looking for that train.
Also, drones been used for political means. So, this was the Caracas attack where they tried to cause disruption to a political rally. Luckily, they were unsuccessful one round got very close, and another drone actually crashed into a building about a mile away. But this started to underline the fact that criminals were starting to adapt to drones far quicker than most agencies expected. And then obviously, we have the famous Gatwick issue was shut down Gatwick just before Christmas, so disrupted everyone's flights. And this was an interesting thing, because this was the first time that a drone, it really affected an airport, the place and place implemented their reaction plans. The issue was that the reaction plan that they have formulated, didn't quite work. And they never did find the culprit for the drone flying. And every time they fought; the area was clear. And they started to start off airport operations. Again, the drone started again. So, there was some interesting play there. And obviously, initially, they thought it was a terrorist attack. So, the terrorist police got involved, and then it moved to the local Constabulary, who, you know, we're learning a lot from this incident. And they have improved their systems and investigation process quickly, but the train is still a threat to the area. So, here's some examples of a drone in, in use. So, there's, as a terrorist with a drone that has been modified to carry a payload. There's a drone factory in a base in the Middle East where they used to modify the trades. So where do they get drones from? They generally buy them on eBay, and then ship them across with either with a foreign fighter, or by sending it across them, they modify it, and then it's either used in the theatre of war for a while, and then it may end to go back to Europe or go back to America. They started to use drones. This is good for publicity, to film attacks and also to surveillance on the Allied forces to see where they were and what they were up to. But then we also got into drones being used to transport drugs, across borders and into prison and sometimes into voyeurism as well, as you can see in the bottom corner there.
At this moment in time, the number of incidents of drones being used for criminal purposes is increasing by a hell of a lot the issue that law enforcement faces. When a drone incident is reported, it may not be recorded correctly by the police station. And even if it's recorded by the police, it may not result in an investigation, because they may say, Well, it's the aviation authorities priority to investigate that. So, we'll just pass the information on to the local Federal Aviation Authority. So, for you to become a master drone criminal is not difficult, you can just look on the internet, go to YouTube. And you can find out how to modify your drone. So behaves the way you want, it will even tell you how to modify the training system. So, you can have a remote release mechanism using the LED light landing lights. And it's not difficult because there's loads of user groups, and there's loads of advice, showing you how to do it, using YouTube videos in using forums, and so on so forth. So, it's not difficult for someone to become an expert in this area. How can I use a drone to commit crime? What do I need to do? How do I modify this? How could I run the drone across a mobile network, possibly? And so, this is the challenge that we face.
Here's some incidences of drones. So, this one was in Turkey, the top one, whereas the total drone that was being used for the Syrian war, for some reason, it carried flying on from Syria, or Costa Turkey and crashed into Turkey. And then it was found and then collected by the police in the one in the bottom was a Mexico, someone strapped some grenades to a drone flew it to a governor's house. And luckily, the grenades didn't detonate. But maybe this was just a warning, or something like that, because as you can see, the pins are still in the grenades themselves. So, this is fairly simple attack. And the issue is, you know, it came as a surprise, someone walked out onto the balcony, and there was this drone with the grenades attached to it. So, you imagine if someone had come across this, and they didn't know what it was, or, you know, you imagine if they even pulled the pin on the grenade just out of interest. So, this is a huge challenge. And here's examples of drones being used in the prison systems. So in the old days, they used to run a run a rope from the cell across the prison yard to the fence, throw it over the fence, and someone would attacker touch a bag to the rope, tug on the rope and someone would then pull the package back into the jail cell. Now they don't need to do that they just need to fly the drone from nearby the prison with a bag attached to the bottom of it and drop the bag in the prison yard or fly against the prison cell window and someone will collect the bag. And it's quite an organized network. Because even in UK when they had this problem, they discovered that people were making orders on the internet for what they needed to be transported into prison. And then they would then pay for it or one of their friends from outside will pay for it. And within a week, they will get delivery of the drugs or the mobile phone or the TV set top box or the tobacco that they wanted into the prison system.
The issue prisons face was, you know, we need some kind of system to detect this. And at the time, this was a major problem. We had DJI aeroscope beam for born so they were going to use that. But the problem is it only detects the drone and tells you it's coming into the area. But then how do you stop it? And that was always a big question. I know in UK, one of the best weapons they used to stop their drones was a big stick. So, they used to have a stick outside and when the drone came overhead, they would try and hit it down into the ground to try and stop it. Or they would try and just smash the drone. So, stop flying and disable the propellers. And then they would then do their investigation on the crash drive.
But also, we've seen drones being used to fly into sites of interest such as nuclear power stations, such as Parliament's and really interesting government infrastructure. At this very time, there's always a question Why does someone fly a drone into a nuclear power station. So, for instance, in France, Greenpeace, flew a drone into some nuclear power stations in France to demonstrate around the use of nuclear power in France, but then you then have the mysterious flights of drones into nuclear power stations in the US still at this moment in time.
We don't know why they're being flown there. But these nuclear power stations are generally in the middle of nowhere. So, there must be a reason why they're being flown there. I was suggested maybe to do some reconnaissance for something maybe later. But we don't know at the moment. And even the authorities in us are scratching their heads. As to why these drones are being flown above the power stations at this moment in time, I'm sure. In time, we'll find out why.
But the thing is, if you have a drone, it's not difficult for you to be to be your own attack vector on a system or on a place because you just need a drone, you need some kind of explosive attaches to the drone fly in somewhere and explode it. And you've created your own terror incident. So, you don't need a huge network of people to facilitate such a crime. And this is a huge issue. Because normally in the past with terrorist acts, and acts of severe implications, there's always a huge network behind it. But with the use of drones as it is, at the moment, this could be a lone wolf attack.
But also, we're starting to see drones being used for some interesting threats, such as hacking. So, we have seen drones on top of skyscrapers of banks, and financial institutions where someone has flown the drone to try and find an attack entry point into the network to then hack the system and try and steal data. So, we have seen drones with Wi Fi, pineapples attached to them to try and get into the system. And this seems to be an increasing threat vector. And obviously, everyone thinks we need to get a countermeasure to combat this. But really, in essence, what you need to do is just make sure if a drone is in the area, and you're working with information that may be confidential or private, just shut the blind and make sure that you're security aware that there's a drone in the area, and they can monitor it and see where it's flying to maybe have the police try and apprehend the person if it's flying in a prohibited area.
Drones come in many shapes or sizes. And the interesting thing is, since the COVID pandemic, drones have evolved immensely quickly, over the past three to six months, what would normally have taken several years to develop and evolve has been developed and evolved in less than three to six months because of the use or need for drones in the areas of COVID protection monitoring, and so on so forth. So, we're seeing the innovation in drones accelerating rather than slowing down. And also, the amount of investment from companies into drones is becoming greater because they can see the benefits since COVID. Before than they did before. So, you will see drones probably accelerate more over the next few years. Because they are cost effective. They are simple and efficient. And they require minimum training and maintenance as long as you have the right systems in place to monitor the trajectories and so on so forth. So, you'll see drones become more and more popular place have started to use drones as well in search and rescue in natural disaster emergencies in reconnaissance and public safety. Now, when COVID happened, there was this perception that the drones were being used by policing to monitor safe distancing, to monitor whether people wearing facial masks and stuff for the protection of safety. And also, they started to mount loudspeakers onto drones to broadcast public safety messages. This had a negative effect with the public and with the press, because as some other countries noted, why would you mount a speaker on a drone when you could just have an officer with loud hailer in the same area just providing the message. And also, a lot of the press in US and in Europe started to get very negative against the use of drones by policing because of your public privacy issue. The intrusion into people's lives and also, you know, broadcasting safety messages may have seemed a good idea at the time. But I know in one country, the governor of that city actually recorded personalized messages, which was quiet quite rude to people. So, it became a problem. I know in some countries, there was the authorities actually told the police to stop using drones because it was causing a negative effect on the perception of policing within that region. But drones and policing there's massive benefit to us because you can have a drone in the back of a police car. As soon as this happens, that drone can fly up and give you an overview of the situation or if you're trying to find.
Someone, such as someone who's lost or escaped prisoner, you can use it for these systems. The main challenge that we face is training and development of those systems. And also, a lot of countries won't allow you to fly beyond line of sight. I know some agencies in the US are now getting authorizations to do that. And they're seeing a huge benefit by being able to fly beyond line of sight. And I know in some cities, they're using the drone as the first responder. So as soon as some reports that say a level one emergency, the drone will leave the police station go to where that emergency has been reported. And we'll do a reconnaissance of the area and stream that information directly to the police officers responding. And the police officers can adapt their response, depending on what the drones see. So, this is a huge benefit to policing. And it also saves time resourcing and wasting police time by going to an incident that doesn't need four or five police cars attending incident. And obviously, with natural disasters, such as wildlife monitoring, and bushfire monitoring, and forest fire monitoring, it really helps the emergency services, such as the fire, and ambulance really understand where they need to be and where they need to put their efforts. So, I can see, eventually policing using drones a hell of a lot more than they are at this moment in time. But it will take time, because the regulation and the technology aren't keeping pace. And there seems to be a very big disconnect between the regulator and the use cases. But that will slowly improve as time goes on. And I know in the discussions were having with countries, we're trying to encourage that discussion between the aviation regulators and the police so that they work in partnership to develop a drone program rather than in isolation.
So, to make it simple for our member countries to understand the drone paradigm, we created this, this model, which is we understood the drone issue to cover three areas, which was the tool side, you know, how do law enforcement use a drone? What are the implications? And what are the challenges limitation? Also, the threat side where we're looking at the use of drones by criminals? How do you detect and identify the threat and also the use of countermeasures? I'll talk about countermeasures briefly in a minute. But countermeasures are a really interesting area. And it's causing huge amounts of challenges for law enforcement at this moment in time. And the area where I got interested in drones was all around the forensic recovery of data from the drains to identify the criminals and suspects who would use the drones in a crime. Now, for some reason, everyone who buys a drone decides when they buy it, they're going to take it home, charger batteries, put it on the ground in front of them in the living room and start to fly it and record pictures and videos, which is really great for when they then go and use it outside and use it to commit a crime because always the first video or picture is of them. And the GPS coordinates within the flight log file is generally their home. So, it's really useful for us, but we're trying to educate law enforcement around the use of drone forensics, because some countries aren't looking at the data held on the drives.
So, as I said, we create this paradigm. But the interesting thing about this paradigm is the biggest encapsulator for these three areas is legislation. legislation is different in every single country. And in some countries are really up and up to date with their legislation, what it should be and how it should be. For instance, India is considering the cyber implications of a DRI. Whereas many other countries haven't looked at this problem yet, but I'm sure they will do eventually. So, we're trying to find a way to have the legislators involved in discussions with law enforcement so that we can try and help shape the legislation within countries so that it meets the needs of law enforcement. Before we discover there's a problem.
So, let's talk about countermeasures, because this is one of the biggest subject areas I've been involved in this year.
So outside of this once there is no silver bullet, to solve your drone problem, there is one system that will solve every single drone may come into the vicinity of where you want to protect, you have to have a multi-tiered approach. You have to have a countermeasure that does long distance sensing say up to five kilometres, another one that does mid sensing with up to three kilometres and then one that does up to one kilometre.
And by having those systems together, you may have a good foolproof system for a countermeasure. The issue is criminals understand countermeasures as well. And they're starting to adapt their attack methodologies based on how the countermeasures are monitoring and detecting drones. And this is their have huge interest to us this year. And the interesting thing for me is that doesn't seem to be a generic assessment per countermeasures. Every assessment I've seen is unique. And the problem I've seen is the assessments tend to always point to one solution, which the person who created the assessment is aware of before they create the assessment. So we've all seen the drone guns, we've all seen the drone nets, the Dutch did drone eagles, but that was problematic because of the animal welfare. And because the drains, Eagles were temperamental, so sometimes they would fly. Other times they wouldn't. And sometimes they wouldn't fly at all, because there wasn't the right kind of weather for them to fly. So that was a two-to-three-year program. It did prove the point that both could be used in this, but I don't think they're being used, because the other problem they had was who would look after the eagle when it wasn't being used for stopping drones. And then we've also seen this year, the idea of using Kamikaze drones, which is used another drone with an explosive or jammer onboard flight near the train is causing the problem, and then either explode the drone or jam the frequencies of the train when you're close by which is not a bad idea, but also presents its other problem of when you jam a drone, how is that drone going to react? Is it going to suddenly land? Or is it going to crash? And if you're above a mass area of lots of people? Where is that drone going to crash? Is it going to hit someone? Or is it going to crash into a building and so on so forth. So, there's loads of issues around this. And we're looking at this issue this year, because there's a huge interest to our member countries.
I was lucky enough to go to Colorado in November 2018. And we had six countries with 15 experts spend a couple of weeks test is testing a variety of drones. This is where I realized I'm not the best drone flier in the world, I always seem to be able to crash the drone into the ground no matter what. So never give me a drone unless you can afford to repair it. But over those two weeks, we developed a framework for law enforcement response to a drone incident, which ended up and we worked with the likes of Cellebrite, Oxygen forensics, Homeland Security in the US, the anti-terrorist squad from UK and some other advisory agencies to help us create a framework, which is what you see here. So, this framework took about six months to create, and then about two years to edit and modify to get it right. So, this was made available to all member countries in May 2020. And if you search on the internet, you can find a copy. Because the idea behind this was to allow everyone have an interest to understand how to react to a drone incident for first responders and digital forensic practitioners. And it also gave an overview of why drone is such an issue. And it's been very widely well received. If you need a copy, just send me an email and I'll send you a copy.
But the interesting thing for us all, for me especially is the fact around doing forensics of a drone once it's been discovered, because a drone is like an aircraft. It has a black box. And within that black box, there's loads of information that tells you his flight logs tells you where it's been, how high it's been, how fast it's been flying, and so on, so forth. And we have seen trains with over 200 flights recorded within the system. And it helps us build a pattern of how that drone has been used in the past why it's been used. error has been flown before. So, for instance, in the UK where they had the use of drones imprisons the drone that they recover from a prison was actually used over 60 times to fly illegal goods into the prison across the country and actually brought the network down and they actually received up to five years imprisonment for their work. So, what about the future? The future is bright for drains, but it's also a challenge for us. So, transforms I have attended lots of discussions around drone swarms. What is a drone swarm? What is the definition of a drone swarm? Is it a drone, just?
Talking to another drone and adapting his flight pile for is it many drones flying at once a drone swarm is more than one drone. I would say, at the moment in time, I think this is a real challenge, because most, most drone testing that I've seen only really covers maybe one or two drones being at the same time. But how would you react to 10 drones being flown into the same location such an airport, how would you divide up your reaction times and so on so forth, also with the advent of 5g, because obviously, signal jamming works if you're jamming GPS and the command-and-control system have to drain. But what happens if that drain is operating on 5g you don't want to jam 5g because you'll just knock out everyone in that area are also autonomous drones are becoming more popular, and home hobby drones are becoming more popular because components are getting cheaper. And there's lots of tutorials on the internet on how you create your own drones. And you know, I can see drones being built at home that you're using frequency hopping. So as soon as the dragon gets detected on a frequency and the frequency starts to get jammed, it just hops to another frequency. So, I can see that happening. So, and legislation is still way behind the technology. And we keep trying to push the legislation forward, that legislation takes a long time to adapt and create.
And then the next issue is UTM unmanned traffic management. This is going to be huge over the next five years. Because obviously, technology is developing drone taxis drone cargo planes and flying taxis they want to get you from the airport to the city centre. So instead of you having to board a train, you just leave the airport get into a drain taxi, that drone taxi will fly you into the city centre within 10 minutes. And it should all be automated. I'm still not convinced I would be comfortable seeing on autonomous drone fly me into a city centre. But I guess that may be an age thing. But I'm sure I'm sure the youngsters will love the experience.
But with that comes added challenges in UTM is an interesting area because there's lots of discussions around UTM. But it doesn't seem to be a coordinated discussion. It seems to be the regulator discussing with industry and then law enforcement is suddenly expected to maintain the security of the airspace.
Law enforcement has never really ever policed the airspace, it's always been the frequency, the aviation regulator. So, I feel this is a huge gap in the discussion because law enforcement needs to be involved because they need to develop the tools or technology, the monitoring, the sensing, and any kind of reactionary technology to such an incident needs to be developed now. So, when UTM gets widely adopted, we suddenly don't have an incident that causes mass panic and causes a lot a lot of investment to be thrown at the problem once the issue becomes mainstream. So, what are Interpol doing so we have a working group called the drain expert group. Some of you may have taken part. And I promise you it's an interesting Working Group, because we always try and find the innovation, the new technology to present law enforcement. So, it's not the same old presentations. We obviously have the framework done. And we're constantly in discussion with industry, academia and law enforcement, because we need to be aware of what's next or what's next. So, I'm constantly having discussions with the industry and with law enforcement to understand what our law enforcement needs. And where does industry see the drone, the drone phenomenon moving forward. And we will continue to keep talking to experts to keep the discussions open. So, if you are a member listening to this presentation, you feel there's something that Interpol should be aware of, or you would like Interpol to be involved in then just let me know. And we will have a discussion for sure. At the moment, we're creating an online working space for drone experts across the world to come and discuss things online. We're also signed to develop reference resources around drones and drone incidents. And I'm also trying to slowly get involved in drone countermeasure evaluations to try and build one evaluation that would meet 80 to 90% of the need of law enforcement to evade valuate the issue maybe next year of COVID passes, and we will host an event in Norway where the Norwegians have given us the pleasure of being able to install some countermeasures that their main airport in Oslo and we will do some testing of the drone countermeasures with the frequency regulator in the government and the police there, as well as member countries from around the globe to understand some of the basic methodologies or countermeasures, how they work and how you can assess if they're successful or effective in there, in there, in their work. So, the good thing about St. Paul is we have 194 countries, and we are always willing to help. So, if you have a specific problem within a specific region, we are happy to help. And I'm currently working on a project in Southeast Asia, and the Middle East, looking at the drone threat, which we will work with those member countries to understand the threats they face, and how we can help them react to those threats and try and protect those countries from those threats. Interpol is just a piece in the jigsaw.
We don't have the answers, but we have a good network of experts who can help find the answers. And if we can't, don't have those experts, we will go out and find those experts and hopefully collaborate with the industry and with law enforcement to help solve the issues.
Collaboration is the key if you don't collaborate is going to be very difficult. So, for example, I'm aware of many projects in US and in Europe, that are looking at the drone issue, but they're looking at a specific problem of the drone phenomena. But they're not sharing that knowledge and expertise with the industry they're sharing with their own little niche. So, example how would you protect an airport? From a drone incident? There's lots of work going on around that. But there seems to be brave little discussion and sharing of information on best practice, Beth mess of the dollar Geez, and what countermeasures are being tested? What are they being tested against? And how are they being tested. So, we're trying to bridge those gaps and bring those experts together so that we save time we save resources we save even the countermeasure industries from having to ship their countermeasures all around the globe, when it could be just shipped to one country where multiple countries take part in the testing.
My main message to you is that nothing is ever impossible, there is always a way no matter what you think there is always a way. And you just need to sometimes take a step back and think differently or change your thinking. Because there is always a way in finding the answer from all the solution, it just takes time. And also take some time to talk with other specialists and experts because I'm sure the problem you face someone else has faced in the past and then find the find the solution for you or tell you who to speak to.
Thank you very much for your time, there's my email address, if you ever want to email me, follow me on LinkedIn, because I sometimes post some good stuff on LinkedIn, which may be interest to you. Thank you very much for your time. And obviously, if there's any questions, then I'm happy to answer them, either by email or by whatever. But I'm always open to discussing. So please don't be scared to engage and discuss. Thank you very much for your time. I hope you enjoyed the presentation.