Jeffrey Starr, D-Fend Solutions: “security and safety incidents involving commercial or DYI drones are occurring at a relentless pace”

There’s this notion that every other person could buy themselves a drone and get an operator’s license, and be free to roam the skies of the world. But in reality, drone traffic is just as controlled and risky as that on the surface, if not more.

While little flying robots are great for deliveries, surveillance, entertainment, and other purposes, there are also people who employ them for criminal activities. This raises the demand for security systems for drone detection and regulation, as well as protection in industries like the military, airports, and others.

To discuss what goes into dealing with drone threats and what the future in the drone and counter-drone industries may look like, Cybernews reached out to Jeffrey Starr, the Chief Marketing Officer at D-Fend, a counter-drone (C-UAS) solutions provider.

Tell us about your story. What did the development of D-Fend look like?

The origins of D-Fend Solutions’ technology, solutions, and the company itself come from deep research into the challenge of rogue drones. The founders and inventors recognized the threat early and began an intensive investigation into the fast growth of drone adoption worldwide across different sectors along with the associated safety and security risks.

The company vision, which continues to guide D-Fend today, is actually very positive towards drones and aims to enable and protect the emerging drone-powered society while also overcoming the rogue drone threat.

D-Fend Solutions’ employees possess extensive specialized experience in multiple domains. We attack the most difficult counter-drone challenges with a multi-disciplinary approach that encompasses a diverse set of technologies.

D-Fend Solutions’ development efforts focus on the most acute threats, the most dangerous drones so that organizations around the world can maintain full control of drone incidents in complex environments and be prepared for future threats.

D-Fend’s EnforceAir has been selected as best-in-class and is used by top-tier government agencies. EnforceAir has been proven, tested, selected, and trusted by operational units and security agencies in sensitive environments and deployed at high levels– including military, law enforcement, and homeland security organizations. EnforceAir has also been selected for large-scale events at major stadiums, arenas, and open-air venues, and is entrusted to protect high-level VIPs around the world, EnforceAir is deployed at forward-operating bases, highly traveled borders and ports, and at major international airports.

Can you introduce us to your EnforceAir solution? What technology do you use to mitigate drone threats?

The Enforce Air C-UAS / Counter-Drone system is based on four key concepts:

  • Control: The best way to control the drone threat is to take control of the drone itself
  • Safety: A safe landing or fending off the rogue drone is the best possible outcome for safe airspace and continuity
  • Focus: Focus on the real risk, the most dangerous drones
  • Future: Foreseeing the drone future and always staying a drone threat ahead

EnforceAir features the world’s leading RF cyber takeover technology. The system detects, locates, and identifies rogue drones in the airspace, and then neutralizes the threat by providing control over the drone and landing it safely in a predefined zone.

During the mitigation takeover process, the rogue drone pilot loses control of the drone and cannot regain it. Since the system does not rely upon jammers or kinetic technology, EnforceAir avoids collateral damage, interference, disruption, or disturbance. Continuity prevails as communications, commerce, transportation, and everyday life smoothly proceed.

EnforceAir also provides a high degree of operational agility & flexibility. Its core elements can be easily set up, transferred, mounted & configured within minutes. Deployment options include:

• Vehicular – including military & civilian

• Tactical – high-altitude & ground-level

• Stationary – high-altitude & long-range

In your opinion, which industries should be especially concerned about drone threats?

Counter-Drone solutions are urgently needed for many scenarios covering different drone threats across different environments, The first wave of early counter-drone adopter sectors has been the military, national and homeland security agencies, law enforcement, airports, and borders.

We now also see a new wave of incidents and heightened concern from ports and harbors, VIP and executive protection, maritime operations, and critical infrastructure.

However, the risk is spreading, and we also see rapidly rising counter-drone demand from other sectors, including stadiums and arenas, prisons, and government buildings and landmarks.

How did the recent global events affect the physical security landscape? Have you noticed any new security issues arise as a result?

Security and safety incidents involving commercial and Do-it-Yourself drones are occurring at a relentless pace around the world, across many sectors and environments.

The current military conflict in Ukraine is just the latest example where we can see commercially purchased drones used on a widespread basis for various military use cases, including both surveillance and attack.

Other incidents include unauthorized drones near airports in the vicinity of the aircraft, drones used for smuggling across borders and into prisons, drones disrupting major events, drones attacking world leaders or other VIPs, and drones disturbing critical infrastructure sites, just to name a few representative examples.

On a positive note, the White House just issued a Counter-Unmanned Aircraft Systems National Action Plan, a long-awaited, much anticipated, and a welcome first step toward raising a heightened sense of urgency and taking governmental actions to address the rapidly rising thereat,

What drone threats do you find the most concerning nowadays?

Drones are becoming faster, cheaper, harder to detect, and more durable. Many can fly long distances and carry heavy payloads and are quite easy to operate, which poses safety and security risks to every type of environment.

Drones that are used to attack military assets and law enforcement staff, target critical facilities, smuggle drugs into prison or across borders and disrupt major events, and the ones posing dangers to planes are some of the most concerning threats among many others.

Besides conventional protections from drones, what other newer physical security measures do you think are necessary for every organization nowadays?

Organizations may have legacy traditional physical and electronic technologies in place, and they continue to play a role in a layered defense strategy, but they may be insufficient in certain situations and sensitive scenarios.

For example, on the detection side, radars can generate false positives from other flying objects such as birds, optical solutions are ineffective without a line of sight, and acoustic solutions are ineffective in noisy environments or with quiet drones

Moving to mitigation, jamming-based solutions are temporary and may disrupt communications. Kinetic solutions, which involve some sort of physical shooting of a projectile, are risky in crowded situations and can cause collateral damage.

Organizations now demand a new generation of C-UAS methods that can mitigate risk by taking control of the situation, ideally with the rogue drone landing safely in a predefined safe zone. Organizations are looking for non-jamming, non-kinetic alternative technologies that do not require line-of-sight. New systems must be able to distinguish between authorized and unauthorized drones, operate in autonomous modes, come in a wide variety of deployment configurations for complete operational flexibility, and have open APIs for integration with various Command & Control systems

What aspects of our daily lives do you hope to see enhanced by drone technology in the near future?

Drones bring tangible value and benefits to populations and industries around the world and are reshaping the way modern societies function. Drones are changing the way various fields and industries operate. However, as drones continue to proliferate, there is a small portion of bad actors, as well as inexperienced operators, who can cause tremendous damage. By mitigating this threat, in a safe and controlled manner, new cyber-based technologies can support today’s drone-powered society and allow it to flourish.

In this age of ever-evolving technology, what do you think are the key security measures everyone should implement in their counter-drone / C-UAS systems?

Today’s counter-drone / C-UAS Systems must be able to contend with the most advanced proprietary protocols and thereby counter the most advanced long-range drones, putting them on a safe route and allowing them to land controllably and securely in a pre-defined safe zone. The systems should be effective against swarming and massing. They should provide full coverage using a range of different antennas for different environments. Set-up should be very quick and easy, with low power requirements and a small overall footprint.

Share with us, what’s next for D-Fend?

D-Fend Solutions is committed to foreseeing future coming drone threats. We work relentlessly to develop new capabilities to stay ahead and anticipate even the most unpredictable drone challenges, with an eye to proactively building next-generation, optimal solutions for the coming dangers. Continuous updates result in an up-to-date response to new drone models and components. D-Fend Solutions takes on this challenge by bringing together all the necessary competencies, employing a robust and experienced research and development group with extensive, cross-domain experience. Our experts possess advanced skill sets, knowledge of best practices, and real-world tradecraft for counter-drone threat reaction and response, which is implemented in our technology to deliver advanced protection to our demanding customers in contending with their challenging drone risks.

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