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Commercial Drones Spark Privacy and Security Fears

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While the world waits for Amazon to start dropping deliveries on customers’ doorsteps using drones, IT professionals are considering the risks of increased commercial drone use.

ISACA recently polled its members and today released the results in a report

, revealing that 75 percent of technology professionals consider privacy and security as their biggest concern regarding the use of drones in a business context. Sixty-three percent said their co-workers lacked the sufficient expertise to assess the security of drones, the IT association also discovered.

Generally, technology experts don’t think businesses are ready for a workplace drone invasion.

Sixty-five percent of respondents said that organizations that stand to benefit from the devices are incapable of meeting privacy and security requirements. Few believe that the benefits outweigh the risks (25 percent), ISACA noted. Encouragingly, 48 percent said the scales may tip in the other direction if those concerns were addressed in the future.

ISACA’s findings cast a bit of a pall on a recent batch of rosy drone statistics and forecasts.

Last year, PricewaterhouseCoopers pegged the value of the global market for drone-enabled business services at over $127 billion, with the infrastructure, agriculture and transport industries taking the lead. Gartner recently said it expected the commercial drone market to reach $3.7 billion this year, up from $2.8 billion in 2016. The analyst firm also observed some shifts in the market that could boost drone adoption by businesses.

“The commercial and personal drone markets are increasingly overlapping, as lower-priced personal devices are being used for commercial ventures,” said Gartner senior analyst Gerald Van Hoy, a statement. “Personal drone vendors are now aggressively trying to position themselves in the commercial market. Recent technological advances blur the lines, allowing personal drones to be used in many special-purpose applications such as surveillance, 3D mapping and modeling.”

Albert Marcella, author of the ISACA report, urges caution before businesses let their drones take flight.

A sky full of commercial drones buzzing overhead poses serious risks for businesses. “Merely launching a sUAS [small unmanned aircraft system] without the proper FAA certification can place an organization into a risk position, financially and legally,” Marcella told Datamation. Another risk is “failing to recognize drones as part of the Internet of Things (IoT),” he added.

“The lack of understanding and interest in security from vendors who are new to integrating connected technology into their traditional products and solutions creates vulnerabilities. The often-overlooked threat is [that] every endpoint is also an entry point when it comes to IoT devices connecting to networks,” said Marcella.

To avoid problems, Marcella suggests that businesses play by the book.

“For now, the rules and regulations guiding the use of sUAS are tightly focused and there is very little, if no room for deviation. Non-compliance will be costly,” he said. “Monitor all regulations that pertain to the operation of sUAS and ensure compliance. Eventually some regulations will be modified, until then, know and play by the rules.”

Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at Datamation. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.

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