‘We’re Not Being Paranoid’: U.S. Warns Of Spy Dangers Of Chinese-Made Drones

NPR
Date: May 29, 2019
By: Brian Naylor

A DJI Technology drone flies during a demonstration in Shenzhen, China, in 2014. DJI sells the majority of Chinese-made drones bought in the United States.
Kin Cheung/AP

Drones have become an increasingly popular tool for industry and government.

Electric utilities use them to inspect transmission lines. Oil companies fly them over pipelines. The Interior Department even deployed them to track lava flows at Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano.

But the Department of Homeland Security is warning that drones manufactured by Chinese companies could pose security risks, including that the data they gather could be stolen.

The department sent out an alert on the subject on May 20, and a video on its websitenotes that drones in general pose multiple threats, including “their potential use for terrorism, mass casualty incidents, interference with air traffic, as well as corporate espionage and invasions of privacy.”

We could pull information down and upload information on a flying drone. You could also hijack the drone.”

Most drones bought in the U.S. are manufactured in China, with most of those drones made by one company, DJI Technology. Lanier Watkins, a cyber-research scientist at Johns Hopkins University’s Information Security Institute, said his team discovered vulnerabilities in DJI’s drones.

“We could pull information down and upload information on a flying drone,” Watkins said. “You could also hijack the drone.”

The vulnerabilities meant that “someone who was interested in, you know, where a certain pipeline network was or maybe the vulnerabilities in a power utilities’ wiring might be able to access that information,” he noted.    [FULL  STORY]

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