The Protocol for Protection Against Enemy Drones

(DGIwire) – When confronted by an enemy drone, what is the best way to defend against it: simply jam its signal or manipulate that signal and take over control of its flight path? According to a recent report in Defense Systems, a number of government agencies are working with industry to pursue the second option. By taking over the signal of a drone, the aim is to enforce perimeter security at sensitive U.S. sites and bases in high-risk combat zones.

According to Defense Systems, there are seven layers of protocol used by computers, drone and software programmable systems to communicate with one another. Changing a bit from a one to a zero, for instance, can reconfigure a drone signal so that it can only communicate with its new controller.

“With protocol manipulation, a user has complete control over a drone,” says Jonathan Hunter, CEO of Department 13. “The user can force the drone to hover, land or follow a new flight path—and it only affects the intended drone’s signal as opposed to jamming all the frequencies it uses.”

Mesmer™, developed by Department 13, is a revolutionary commercial counter-drone platform, using sophisticated automated detection and mitigation strategies to stop, redirect, land or take total control of a target drone or radio-controlled device. This is done with protocol manipulation, which takes advantage of weaknesses found in all digital radio protocols. Mesmer is also flexible, operating as a stand-alone system, or working in tandem with existing hardware solutions. Mesmer is ideal for both commercial and defense/security organizations to deal with the emerging threat of ubiquitous autonomous systems. The company’s counter-drone solution offers the best of Department 13’s innovative technologies and deep experience.

Unlike other systems that use radio jamming and standard electronic mitigation techniques, Mesmer uses signal features and metadata to select and apply strategies in order to curtail drone threats, regardless of how drone vendors may try and prevent this from happening. This protocol manipulation is low-power so it offers an advantage by not affecting non-targeted communication signals. This also allows Mesmer to operate below one watt and within U.S. regulatory (FCC) constraints.

Hunter and his Department 13 colleagues suggest that threats, constraints and user needs will continuously change and evolve as drones and devices are implemented in the real world. So instead of a purpose-built hardware solution approach, they designed Mesmer software to use protocol manipulation to handle even the most complex of scenarios, providing end users with a powerful and flexible counter-drone system.

The Mesmer platform addresses diverse threat scenarios and drone types. It allows the possibility of “non-kinetic mitigations” (i.e. drones are not shot down) that pose no public hazards. Its open software architecture integrates with other security applications. Furthermore, the platform is operational in multi-terrain (urban, remote and rugged) environments, and it is easily deployed to support mobile counter-unmanned aircraft system (C-UAS) operation.

“We think that using a constructive approach to counter enemy drones—and being able to guide them safely away from secure sites—is a fruitful strategy for a variety of military and civilian stakeholders alike,” adds Hunter.

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