Chinese drones may be stealing sensitive information, DHS warns

The warning follows an executive order last week which banned US firms from using Huawei equipment

David I. Klein
New York
Monday 20 May 2019 22:21 BST

Chinese-made drones in America may be sending sensitive data to their manufacturers back home where it can be accessed by the government, the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has warned.

CNN, which obtained the internal alert, reported that the DHS fears drones will offer Chinese intelligence unfettered access to American data

"The United States government has 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 says.

The warning comes shortly after President Trump signed an executive order which in effect banned US firms from using telecommunication equipment from Hauwei, a Chinese tech giant.

Though the alert didn't name specific companies, the vast majority of drones used in the US and Canada are made by the Shenzen based Company, DJI, CNN reported.

A spokesman for DJI denied that any information was being transmitted to it from its drones, adding that the security of its technology has been independently verified by the US government.

However, in 2017, DJI Drones were banned for military use due to similar concerns.

"Those concerns apply with equal force to certain Chinese-made (unmanned aircraft systems)-connected devices capable of collecting and transferring potentially revealing data about their operations and the individuals and entities operating them, as China imposes unusually stringent obligations on its citizens to support national intelligence activities," the alert said.

The DHS suggested suggested disconnecting the devices from the internet and removing secure digital cards.

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"Organisations that conduct operations impacting national security or the Nation's critical functions must remain especially vigilant as they may be at greater risk of espionage and theft of proprietary information," the alert also states.

Drones are used by many government agencies, from ICE to local police departments,and are often used in the construction of government buildings.

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