6 challenges that drones bring to perimeter security

6 challenges that drones bring to perimeter security

Since the 2018 closure of Gatwick Airport where an Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) threatened perimeter security, drones have been recognised for their ability to bring widescale disruption and damage to assets and environments.

In 2022, a major concern for many critical national infrastructure sites is that their traditional security measures, which protect against physical and cyber threats, may be bypassed completely thanks to new drone technology. Introducing a wave of new risks, drones require us to consider a multitude of additional challenges to perimeter security.

These include:

  1. The current state of drone sophistication
  2. The speed of evolution
  3. Rapid response times are now vital
  4. Intelligent onboard systems disrupt law enforcement
  5. Drones can cause significant harm
  6. Forming responses is a complex procedure

1. The current state of drone sophistication

Drones have evolved to provide the pilot with greater controls, capabilities, and range than previously thought possible. In addition to this suite of new advancements, drones are now able to avoid radar detection, deploy counter-detection measures, and more – making closing the window of vulnerability a significant challenge with no single solution.

2. The speed of evolution

Rapid domain evolution poses another challenge to perimeter security. Within such a fast-paced risk environment, security teams may often feel that they’re at a disadvantage when ensuring that they confidently deploy C-UAS solutions.

Searching for a solution to the latest development can often involve teams seeking best-in-class sensor types from many third-party vendors. This can introduce its own problem: with several isolated sensors, how can teams access a clear operating picture to support rapid action? Read more about this in our blog.

3. Rapid response times are now vital

When drones cross protected perimeters – either through an unintended breach or for malicious purposes – every second matters. When drones are capable of causing significant damage or scoping targets prior to a theft, closing the window of vulnerability continues to remain a high priority.

However, many commercial drones are now able to reach incredibly high top speeds (currently meeting an average of 50mph). They can also bypass secure perimeters and enter secure airspace exceptionally quickly. This presents security teams with the task of responding to new risks in essentially real-time.

4. Intelligent onboard systems disrupt law enforcement

With onboard intelligence equipping drones with the benefits of AI, it is no longer necessary for human pilots to control drones. For law enforcement teams, this presents a new challenge – how to identify the drone’s owner if there’s no location data available to be intercepted.

This is an ongoing concern, and one that we’re actively involved in tackling through our close collaboration with UK law enforcement, defence research, and other sectors.

5. Drones can cause significant harm

Drones can cause significant harm to people, property, or wider environments, such as when entering the turbines of passenger jet engines or falling from great heights into crowded areas. There are several documented incidents of drones causing bodily harm and more.

Drones are also capable of presenting other forms of unique harm to security. Their use for smuggling illegal contraband into prisons has already been flagged as a serious risk, while new abilities for deploying payloads through a variety of means, including chemical dispersions, are a constant battle for security teams.

6. Forming responses is a complex procedure

Even when drones are detected, forming an appropriate response can be tricky. Currently, it is illegal for civilians to intervene in drone operations, regardless of if they are breaching secure airspace.

Forming an appropriate response to drone incursions is instead the sole responsibility of law enforcement. In the UK, a core priority for drone response is to locate the pilot responsible, and provide words of caution against future action, or make arrests in severe cases.

However, as drone perimeter responses are set to become more complex and high-risk, determining the safest course of action will be both more critical, and require a greater level of authority.

Providing situational intelligence to create safer spaces

At Operational Solutions, we’re determined to provide world-leading situational intelligence and visibility needed to help security teams creating safer spaces and rapidly close the window of vulnerability.

Learn more by viewing our full suite of market-leading solutions today