Homeland Security reportedly warns of Chinese-made drones stealing data

DHS warns of ‘strong concerns’ that Chinese-made drones are stealing data

Now Game of Drones? US firms ‘warned’ against Chinese UAVs

The combination of the sensitive data collected by drones and the requirement of Chinese citizens to support "national intelligence activities" makes the Chinese-made technology a significant risk to USA companies, DHS's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency said this week in an industry alert, obtained by CyberScoop.

An advisory against using these drones would include Chinese drone maker DJI's extensive portfolio, including the DJI Spark. and the DJI Mavic Air, which CNET has reviewed as being "a folding 4K mini drone that's close to ideal". The products "contain components that can compromise your data and share your information on a server accessed beyond the company itself".

DJI refuted the report but pushed out Local Data Mode, which allowed users to fly drones without an internet connection. The US Army, however, banned the use of DJI drones in 2017, citing similar security concerns to the DHS' latest report.

This is the latest concern raised by the US government about the threats of Chinese-made devices.

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.

The report, also seen by several other USA publications, alleges that Chinese drones can record and store sensitive data - flight paths for example - and transmit it back to Chinese intelligence agencies.

The US and China are now locked in a trade war that has frayed the two countries' relationship as it deteriorated in recent weeks.

The company added that it gives "customers full and complete control over how their data is collected, stored and transmitted".

"At DJI, safety is at the core of everything we do, and the security of our technology has been independently verified by the USA government and leading USA businesses", DJI says.

The same month, the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Ice) agency said it suspected DJI was "providing US critical infrastructure and law enforcement data to the Chinese government". "Every day, American businesses, first responders, and USA government agencies trust DJI drones to help save lives, promote worker safety, and support vital operations, and we take that responsibility very seriously", DJI said.

"Commercial use will surpass the consumer drone market in 2024, becoming the largest segment of the civil market", Teal Group said in a July 2018 report.

And while the report doesn't name any specific brands, an estimated 80% of consumer drones in the United States are made by drone juggernaut DJI, which is based in Shenzhen, China. Following the incident, a "bounty hacker" found a critical security gap in DJI drones.

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