Date of Award

December 2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Mechanical Engineering

First Advisor

Jeremiah Neubert


Small unmanned aerial systems stand the greatest chance of exploit from cybersecurity attacks more than any other UAS platform due to their low-cost, availability, and ease of use. A new scenario-based threat model specific to UAS was developed. This thesis has examined, identified, and characterized a sample of those specific cybersecurity vulnerabilities through that UAS threat model framework.Due to the large growth in small unmanned aerial systems, from military and academic applications to more personal recreational use-cases there has been an equally proportional rise in cybersecurity threats that prey on vulnerabilities of these UASs systems. Hackers often seek out these vulnerabilities in an effort to take control of these drone systems to further conduct more nefarious activities risking life and or property. A sUAS specific cybersecurity threat-model was developed and applied against a DJI Tello EDU domestic drone. Two scenarios were applied through current cybersecurity hacking methods to evaluate the basis of risk for all systems of the drone with today’s trending global threats. The model successfully demonstrated the ability to identify the threats based on a risk score to further understand the vulnerabilities. This hacking methodology for sUAS brings cybersecurity awareness to the industry not only addressing the hardware and software systems, but the environmental or social engineering threat landscape to similar supporting systems as well. This information collected is a critical step in further evaluating the specific risks any one model of drone could present to the user or organization. This is the just beginning of a much-needed insight into the unmanned aerial systems security as additional research in cloud and SWARM technology is starting to take shape.