DHS warns of data threat from Chinese-made drones

22 Mai, 2019, 03:19 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • DJI's Inspire drone is seen at the 35th GITEX Technology Week at Dubai World Trade Centre

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) has warned U.S. businesses to "be cautious" of Chinese-made drones "as they may contain components that can compromise your data and share your information on a server accessed beyond the company itself".

Seventy-nine percent of drones operating in the USA and Canada and 74% globally are made by DJI, according to a 2018 market sector report from Skylogic Research, an industry analyst.

Last week, US President Donald Trump issued an executive order that bans US firms from using telecommunications made by Chinese-company Huawei due to national security concerns.

Industry experts say the drone's easy-to-use software combined with sophisticated cameras and advanced technology allowed DJI to take over sales in the United States for hobbyists, as well as professional organizations.

Google, Intel and Qualcomm responded by immediately halting sales to Huawei, leaving the tech firm's ability to keep up its smartphone manufacturing operation in question, and barring the Chinese firm from including some features of Google's Android operating system in its phones. And in the wake of the report, DJI issued an unequivocal repudiation of the alert.

The DJI Osmo Action Camera looks like a GoPro. There is no new public evidence available to support the American claim of Chinese spying enabled by DJI.

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In a statement, DJI said that it gives customers "full and complete control over how their data is collected, stored, and transmitted", adding that "customers can enable all the precautions DHS recommends".

China's SZ DJI Technology Co Ltd, the world's largest maker of consumer drones, said in a statement on Monday that "the security of our technology has been independently verified by the US government and leading USA businesses". American action follows years of Chinese bans on US tech companies including Google and Facebook.

The US has had concerns about Chinese drones in the past, with the US Army ending its use of DJI drones in 2017, citing "cyber vulnerabilities".

In an email to PCMag, the Department of Homeland Security didn't elaborate on the potential spying threat from Chinese-made drones or if it's found evidence of the covert data collection. The DHS advisory is the clearest sign yet that the government is taking aim at DJI because of its near-monopoly in ready-to-fly drones.

DJI refuted the report but pushed out Local Data Mode, which allowed users to fly drones without an internet connection. Most likely, yeah. Just don't shoot video of your social security card or secret underground missile silos.

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