On May 20th, we reported that the Department of Homeland Security warns that Chinese drones might be stealing your data. Today, we learn from the narrator in a special video message from the DHS, that “we’re not being paranoid,” when it comes to the security risk that Chinese-made drones might expose us to. This risk is not limited to just drones. It also includes other Chinese-made product such as the ones from the telecom giant Huawei, and even subway cars made in China to be used by the transit agencies in New York City and Washington D.C.

DJI Mavic Pro

DHS video: “We’re not being paranoid”

Drones, in general, offer great value to many different organizations and businesses, such as insurance and inspection companies, police and fire departments, or rescue workers. However, especially Chinese-made drones could also pose security risks, and DHS warns us that the data collected by the unmanned aircraft collect might be stolen.

On a special section of the official DHS website, the department warns us that UAS-related threats may include:

  • Weaponized or Smuggling Payloads – Depending on power and payload size, UAS may be capable of transporting contraband, chemical, or other explosive/weaponized payloads.
  • Prohibited Surveillance and Reconnaissance – UAS are capable of silently monitoring a large area from the sky for nefarious purposes.
  • Intellectual Property Theft – UAS can be used to perform cyber crimes involving theft of trade secrets, technologies, or sensitive information.
  • Intentional Disruption or Harassment – UAS may be used to disrupt or invade the privacy of other individuals.

DHS points out as well that the FAA expects the number of hobbyist and commercial drones to increase to 7 million units by 2020, and that “as a result, potential threats associated with UAS will continue to expand in nature and increase in volume in the coming years.”

In an 11-minute-long video from DHS, the narrator explains the potential risks associated with drones, counter UAS security practices, actions to consider to mitigate the risk and tells us that with the increase in popularity of drones:

“There is real concern about drones and the potential use for terrorism, mass casualty incidents, interference with air traffic, as well as corporate espionage and invasions of privacy. We’re not being paranoid. Just look at the short amount of time it took for aircraft to become weapons. Less than ten years after the Wright brothers first flight, a person flew a plane and dropped a brick on someone’s head. That was followed with pistols, long guns, machine guns, leading to the ear of dogfights. Soon after that limited precision bombs and missiles evolved. It is not hard to imagine UAS following a similar path.” 

Follow this link to watch the video that has been made by the Department of Homeland Security Office of Infrastructure Protection.

On the website, the DHS provides us with a number of UAS Resources to assist in determining what to do when a drone is spotted in the vicinity of critical infrastructure. For instance, it includes Federal statutes that might affect the engagement of local law enforcement when dealing with unmanned aircraft systems, but also a list of frequently asked questions and a helpful UAS Critical Infrastructure Drone Pocket Card.

It is not just drones that are posing a risk, other Chinese-made products such as the ones from the telecom giant Huawei, and even subway cars made in China to be used by the transit agencies in New York City and Washington D.C. could potentially steal sensitive data, according to this article from NPR. In the same article, Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va says:

“A rail car might have a whole host of sensors [and] communication tools, and when that equipment is manufactured in China, and when that equipment sometimes can be upgraded on a remote basis in terms of a software upgrade, there are national security implications. The Communist Party of China now has in their law the ability to interfere and take information from virtually every Chinese company. And as long as that exists, that provides a whole set of vulnerabilities I think American business has to consider on a going-forward basis.”

Hence, the warning from the Department of Homeland Security to be careful when buying Chinese technology.

Stay in touch!

If you’d like to stay up to date with all the latest drone news, scoops, rumors and reviews, then follow us on TwitterFacebookYouTubeInstagram or sign up for our daily email newsletter, that goes out every weekday at 6 pm.

Buy your next drone through directly from manufacturers, such as DJIParrotYuneec or retailers like AmazonB&HBestBuy or eBay. By using our links, we will make a small commission, but it will not cost you anything extra. Thank you for helping DroneDJ grow!


Subscribe to DroneDJ on YouTube for exclusive videos

About the Author