Drone Forensics

Drone Forensic Analysis | Drone Recovery

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Drones and Quadcopters are becoming more and more prevalent in the commission of Criminal Offences with instances such as Voyeurism, Drug Drops or more commonly Unauthorised Air Incursions (Unauthorised Infringement of Controlled Airspace).

Why the need for Drone Forensic Analysis?

Drones are now more often being used by persons wanting to take unauthorised or voyeuristic pictures and videos whilst wanting to avoid detection or attribution. As the costs of Drones start being reduced it will be a case of these being used to to get to hard to reach places and unauthorised images or videos taken. These can be of a sexual nature or paparazzi style press photographs.


Drug or Prohibited Item Drops
Depending on the Prison or Secure Facility, often it is now easier to smuggle prohibited items such as Mobile Phones, Weapons, Drugs or other contraband in via Drone drops rather than risking carrying them into prison or attempting to get a prison worker via blackmail or bribery to smuggle the items in.

As can be seen from the below DJI Phantom 4 Drone Examination Case Study low tech methods are being utilised to transform the drones into delivery systems. Often due to the sheer volume of GPS data these devices record, they can be attributed back to the owners and facilitators of these offences.


Unauthorised Air Incursions
A runway incursion is an incident where an unauthorized aircraft, vehicle or person is on a runway. On this occasion, it refers to Drones or UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle ). This adversely affects runway safety, as it creates the risk that an aeroplane taking off or landing will collide with the object. This will have a huge financial impact on any airport and full investigations need carrying out and culpability attributed. A Digital Forensic Investigation of a Drone can strongly assist with the attribution of the device if recovered from the scene.



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What data can be recovered from a Drone examination?

The services we provide are comprehensive – including forensic analysis supporting investigations into the following areas of the Drone data:


Locational Data – Co-ordinates and Altitude

Home Location

Journeys and Routes




Links to related Drone Articles & Guidance

NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) have issued guidance and more importantly forensic images to assist Digital Forensic examiners with best practices and a data library to test their drone data analysis with:

Drone Analysis Gets a Boost With New Data on NIST Website

UK drone crimes on the rise as police investigate reports of voyeurism and drug trade

US couple who allegedly spied on neighbours with drone arrested on voyeurism charges

Drone reports to UK police soar 352% in a year amid urgent calls for regulation

Drone Forensic Analysis | DJI Phantom 4 Drone Examination

The image gallery below shows the initial Digital Forensic examination of a Drone Unit, on this occassion, it was a DJI Phantom 4.

Through a detailed digital examination of the device it could be shown due to the large volume of geolocation data stored to its hidden internal memory that it had been used in the commission of multiple drug,  weapon or prohibited item drops at a prison. It came equipped with a custom built mechanism that allowed the nefarious items to be attached to its underbelly which can then be released on command.

Following data analysis of the locational data, the device could be attributed to the commission of these offences, but in addition to this, the data showed testing of the unit at the alleged owners home address.

13 + 13 =

Identifiable information for this Testimonial has been redacted.

“That is a great result and the injured parties in this case are very pleased. Once again ******* many thanks for the crucial work you carried out on breaking into the phone for us and the clear evidence you provided at *********** Crown Court during the trial. “

UK Police Force

Detective Constable (DC), Digital Forensics