CNN has reported a notice from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security that warns of Chinese drone spying, specifically by Chinese-made consumer drones.
The warning says that U.S. officials have “strong concerns about any technology product that takes American data into the territory of an authoritarian state that permits its intelligence services to have unfettered access to that data or otherwise abuses that access.”
The alert reportedly cautions organizations involved in national security and critical functions that they must be “especially vigilant as they may be at greater risk of espionage.”
In the middle of a rapidly intensifying fight between the United States and Beijing over Chinese telecom giant Huawei, the Department of Homeland Security warned companies on data security risks if they use commercial drones made in China, from CyberScoop and Politico claim.
The DHS’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) warned U.S. companies to “be cautious” of Chinese-built drones “as they may contain components that can compromise your data and share your information on a server accessed beyond the company itself.” US officials haveHuawei’s networking gear poses a similar spying risk because the company itself is under the jurisdiction of the Chinese government.
Though it hasn’t been named the Chinese company DJI, the world’s largest drone manufacturer, issued a strong denial on Monday after reports of the DHS advisory emerged.
DJI spokesperson Adam Lisberg told Gizmodo, “At DJI, safety is at the core of everything we do, and the security of our technology has been independently verified by the U.S. government and leading U.S. businesses. We give customers full and complete control over how their data is collected, stored, and transmitted. For government and critical infrastructure customers that require additional assurances, we provide drones that do not transfer data to DJI or via the internet, and our customers can enable all the precautions DHS recommends.”
In 2018, DJI contracted an American company to conduct an independent analysis of the company’s data and security practices. from San Francisco-based Kivu Consulting defended DJI’s handling of data storage, flight logs, and personally indefinable information.
Homeland Security officials have spent much of 2019 pressing Chinese spying fears. Chris Krebs, director of CISA, , “China is trying to manipulate the system to its ultimate long-term advantage.” earlier this year
Markets around the world witnessed chaos as investors have sent tech stockswhile everyone figures out the long term repercussions of these recent events. The order against Huawei and warning against DJI might just be the beginning of a genuine tech Cold War. American action follows years of Chinese bans on U.S. tech companies including Google and Facebook.
The entire tech conflict could be viewed as fallout of a larger escalating trade war between the United States and China.
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