Australian Defence Force Resumes Use of DJI Drones for Non-Sensitive Jobs
The Australian Defence Force (ADF) is once again using drones from the Chinese manufacturer DJI after having suspended them from service two weeks earlier. According to Marise Payne, the Defence Minister, these drones would now be used for “unclassified missions”.
The suspension had come about after the CEO Philippe Odouard, of an Australian company Xtek that deals with US-made DJI drones, suggested that the Chinese made DJI drones could have code that would allow for encryption breaches. Xtek has a $101-million contract to supply the Australian Defence Force Wasp surveillance drones.
These US made drones are equipped with the Australian software before they are sold to the Australian miliatry. Mr Odouard said that there is a chance that the DJI’s encryption algorithms could be accessed by the Chinese government. He explained that these encryptions are likely to have “backdoors” through with their makers can access them. A lot of these, he said, were made by private enterprises and then provided to the government.
The ADF after this warning suspended the use of these DJI drones on August 9. The United States also stopped their use on 2nd of August this year citing cyber security issues.
The ADF now has resumed their use starting on 21st of August. However they have revised their operative procedures to ensure safety according to a Defence spokesperson. Mr. Odouard said that these modified DJI Phantom drones could be useful for training purposes but they are not suitable for sensitive environments.
DJI however has refuted these allegations and has asked the ADF to contact them for assistance regarding issues and concerns. Mr. Odouard added that the DJI employees could be acting in good faith and could be unaware of any backdoors that might exist.