military drone
A lack of effective anti-drone technology has U.S. government agencies scrambling for an answer. Reuters/Darrin Zammit Lupi

Wannabe hackers trying to infiltrate Internet networks in skyscrapers or hidden in out-of-reach areas have a new toy: the Aerial Assault drone. The unmanned aerial vehicle is now for sale to anyone willing to pay $2,500 for the ability to assess Internet network strength and relay details back to the drone's owner.

David Jordan, a robot expert at the U.S. company Aerial Assault, unveiled the aircraft at the Defcon hacking conference in Las Vegas Sunday. He equipped his drone with an array of software tools capable of performning “penetration testing” used by hackers and security researchers looking for weaknesses in computer networks. The Aerial Assault drone uses that software to scan for unsecured networks, recording that information and sending it back to the drone's operator along with precise GPS coordinates.

“There has never been this capability before,” Jordan told Agence Presse-France.

A previous version of the drone featured its own WiFi signal, enabling Jordan's customers to trick laptops, phones and other devices in an area to connect to his drone rather than a trusted network. That would have made it easier for hackers to sweep up data that passes through the connection, including credit card numbers, banking information and the like.