Nonetheless, the drone industry is taking further steps to safeguard the technology. "The drone manufacturers are looking at encryption methods to secure their drone channels. That would be the most vulnerable to hijacking — the command channel, but also the data link, depending on what kind of data is coming down," said Rich Hanson, head of government and regulatory affairs for the Academy of Model Aeronautics, a nonprofit that represents more than 140,000 model aviation enthusiasts in the U.S.
The FAA doesn't have an official line on the potential of drones being hacked (it declined to speak on the record). Ultimately, whether the sorts of demonstrations that pop up at hacking conferences trickle into the world of purposeful, malicious hacking — the commandeered quadcopter carrying your Amazon order — is the question.
"When you start looking at packages flying and more sophisticated GPS in our airspace, then I think the potential and the consequences become more significant," Hanson said.
For the time being, consumers new to flying drones should focus on responsible flying to ensure that their drones don't end up in a position where a hacking attempt could spell bigger trouble. As Stevenson University's Robinson puts it, inexperienced pilots are the bigger threat — for now.
"The problem we're having now is people flying over people's houses," he said. "People don't know the rules, and I think that's a bigger issue."
—By Andrew Zaleski, special to CNBC.com